Ofsted seen as ‘not fit for purpose’ and schools should self-evaluate instead, inquiry says

Politics

Ofsted is seen as “not fit for purpose” and schools should “self-evaluate their progress” instead, an inquiry has said.

The Beyond Ofsted inquiry into the education inspectorate for England said it found Ofsted has a “detrimental impact” that is perceived by some as “toxic” – and called for “transformational change”.

The inquiry chairman, Lord Jim Knight, said Ofsted has “lost the trust of the teaching profession, and increasingly of parents”.

The inquiry was launched in April amid calls for the inspectorate to revamp its school ratings system – which uses one-word judgements – after the death of headteacher Ruth Perry in January.

Ms Perry’s family said she took her own life after an Ofsted report downgraded her Caversham Primary School in Reading from its highest rating to its lowest over safeguarding concerns.

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Teacher’s death blamed on Ofsted

Instead of the rating system, the inquiry says schools could “self-evaluate their progress” and work long-term with an external “school improvement partner”.

The partner would validate and support the school to deliver an action plan and parents would be provided with useful information instead of a single-word judgement.

Lord Knight said: “This would produce an action plan for governance and the school community to understand what is working well and what can be done better.”

The inquiry recommends an “immediate pause to routine inspections” to allow time for trust to be regained by the teaching profession, but inspections would continue to feed back to the Department of Education on the impact of its policies.

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Ofsted inspections ‘high stakes’

Read more:
Ofsted grading process ‘nonsense’, former inspector claims
Sister of headteacher Ruth Perry says Ofsted chief ‘totally insensitive’

A Department for Education spokesperson told the BBC it wants “inspections to be a constructive experience for school staff”.

“Our inspectors are all former or current school leaders and well understand the nature and pressures of the work,” the spokesperson said.

“Ofsted has a crucial role in providing a regular, independent evaluation of every school, providing reassurance to parents that pupils are receiving the high-quality education they deserve and are being kept safe.”

The Institute for Public Policy Research said “overly simplistic” school inspection judgements, such as inadequate or needs improvement, often trigger abrupt changes to management.

The thinktank said this fuelled a “football manager culture” in schools of firing headteachers.

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