PLANS to change the way that the education watchdog inspects schools are long overdue. As Chief Inspector of Schools Amanda Spielman said when making her announcement, Ofsted has, for too long, been putting too much emphasis on exam results. This has often been at the expense of a child’s broader education and wellbeing.
Teachers and education leaders – and hence pupils – have felt pressure to perform to a certain standard as a result, an unwanted additional pressure at a time when schools are feeling the strain of squeezed budgets, a national teacher shortage and a rising number of children being referred to mental health services for support.
That less scrutiny could be put on headline figures will be welcomed by many, but it is important, nevertheless, to consider whether schools are offering a broad curriculum. After all, subjects in more creative courses should be just as valued as maths, English and science in creating a skilled and varied workforce of the future and schools should be preparing all children for a wide range of jobs and life experiences, not just to pass exams.
The worry now is that under pressure schools will have yet another policy focus when they’re already juggling budgets, resources, exam results, staff and student wellbeing, safeguarding and, in some cases, feeding poverty-stricken children.
Teachers want consistency and clarity so that they can get on with doing their jobs which is to teach, rather than to second guess the ever changing whims of ministers and inspectors who don’t always comprehend everyday pressures in the classroom.