Ofsted cannot decide what ‘good teaching’ is

NEU Leadership member John Connolly explains why the system of school inspection must change urgently to work to support schools.


As a senior leader in an average size comprehensive, all my colleagues worked hard to provide a good education for our students throughout the pandemic, keeping the school open for our most vulnerable pupils throughout and providing remote learning for those students at home. Rather than being praised for these efforts, it is clear Ofsted is only interested in criticising and finding fault with schools. The message coming though from other senior colleagues is that Ofsted inspectors are keen to find fault with the pandemic provision and highlight a lack of extracurricular provision when they want evidence to support downgrading a school.

Just like many others in public provision, the praise we received during the pandemic is now being replaced by blame, in an attempt to distract from a lack of long-term and short-term funding. Ofsted is the Government's key means of applying this 'blame culture' in education. Ofsted offers no solutions, no help and no clear direction. It cannot even decide what 'good teaching' is, repeatedly changing its definition of what schools should do to suit its political masters. It is time for a change in approach, led by respected educationalists, and not investment bankers.

Not to do so will only further exacerbate the staffing crisis in education and force many more teachers out of the profession burdened by a bureaucracy focussed only on cutting costs rather than teaching children. The culture of inspection needs to change to become a supportive process that helps to improve schools instead of just finding fault with the hardworking staff in education.

John Connolly is a deputy head teacher and District Leadership Officer for Shropshire.

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Abolish Ofsted

Teachers and leaders work under the shadow cast by Ofsted. An unfair and unreliable inspectorate.

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