Comment on NAO’s report on Ofsted’s inspection of schools

Dr Mary Bousted, joint general secretary of the National Education Union, has commented on the report from the National Audit Office (NAO) on Ofsted’s inspection of schools.

“We welcome the NAO’s report on Ofsted’s inspection of schools; it is both vital and timely. Ministers can't ignore this report and the time for root and branch reform of Ofsted is now.

“The revelation that Ofsted does not know whether its school inspections are having the intended impact to raise the standards of education and improve the quality of children and young peoples’ lives is devastating. It confirms the NEU’s view that Ofsted is not fit for purpose and that we need a root and branch review and overhaul of the system for holding schools to account for their quality of education.

“The NAO has also provided further evidence that there are conflicts of interest, and duplication of role, between Ofsted and the Regional School Commissioners. We welcome that the Department for Education will consult on this issue in the autumn – better late than never.

“It is important that the NAO has identified that the messages about the Ofsted ‘Myth-busters’ have not filtered down, in many cases, to teachers. Ofsted has produced a compliance culture: school leaders feel constrained to provide what they think inspectors will want before considering what is best for pupils and learning. At the same time teachers comply with instructions from leadership and too often do not feel suitably empowered to exercise their own professional judgement.

“Neither Ofsted inspectors nor schools can keep pace with the frequency of change in the content and form of inspections. Ofsted should have been, from the start, a supportive organisation. Clearly all schools should consider and review their practice, but the documented devastation, demotivation and poor morale left by the current Ofsted regime, ticking very narrow standards lists, has not been effective or helpful for schools and colleges.

“Crucially, the NAO has concluded that Ofsted cannot demonstrate that its inspection of schools represents value for money and the NEU supports that conclusion. Huge sums of taxpayers’ money are being spent on a system of inspection which demands high standards from schools yet cannot demonstrate the same standards itself.”


Press release
24 May 2018