Commenting on the statement from the Chief Inspector, Amanda Spielman, on calls for Ofsted reform, Dr Mary Bousted, Joint General Secretary of the National Education Union, said:
“Today’s statement is a necessary recognition of the urgent need for a better approach to school inspection. However, it is clear from the proposals outlined that Ofsted has not properly listened to, or reflected enough about, the concerns and harms that teachers and leaders have spoken out about for so long.
‘For the most part, Ofsted's proposals try to make a bad system more bearable, without making serious changes.
It’s important that Ofsted recognises that its approach to safeguarding needs to change, particularly when the changes schools can make sometimes require very little effort to put right. This must be a consistent approach adopted by all school inspectors. It’s urgent that Ofsted reviews its complaints process because it is clear the current system is neither robust nor transparent. Ofsted continues to be out of touch in its continued confidence in ‘single word’ judgements. These headline grades are a significant factor in the reductive and stress - inducing approach that works against school improvement and that often contributes to a negative cycle for schools, particularly those serving the most disadvantaged communities.
‘Leaders and teachers require more ambitious change to the way inspection works. An alternative approach must be supportive, effective and fair and it must seek to alleviate the unbearable pressure, fear and surveillance culture so embedded in the current regime. Without more fundamental change we cannot envision how Ofsted will win back the confidence and trust of the profession nor meet its aims to be a force for improvement and ensure children get the education they deserve.
‘The NEU is asking heads not to engage in becoming inspectors until Ofsted engages with health and wellbeing concerns more seriously. We are asking school leaders who are currently employed as Ofsted inspectors to step down from this role as soon as is feasible. The NEU is urging schools not to legitimise Ofsted by removing all references to their school’s grading from their school gates and letter heads. The NEU does not believe Ofsted delivers fair or reliable grades to schools, or that single-word judgements benefit or accurately inform parents or carers”.