Today, 6 May, Ofsted turns thirty years old. This is not a cause for celebration.

National Education Union (NEU) members are marking the occasion by delivering giant ‘unhappy birthday cards’ to Ofsted’s seven regional offices*, along with hundreds of handwritten messages from teachers and school leaders calling for the toxic inspectorate to be replaced with a new system that is supportive, effective and fair.   

Members wrote to say:   

“[Ofsted] created so much unnecessary anxiety and work. [It] drives teachers away from the profession, creating a deficit where we should have decades of experience and expertise.”   

“[Ofsted] crushes my passion to teach… please don’t get to your 31st birthday!”   

“No evidence of positive effects on teaching and learning. Ideologically driven to narrow education to a set of ‘must dos’ not so children can flourish but so they can take their place in society according to the income of their parents.”

“Instead of nurturing and inspiring our pupils, we are forced to work within a toxic environment... Teachers are leaving the profession in droves.”

“Thanks for ruining my teaching career, 6 months off sick with depression and anxiety.”   

The Replace Ofsted: let teachers teach petition, calling for government to establish a commission to develop a new system of supportive, reliable school inspection, was launched at the union’s annual conference and has received more than 32 thousand signatures. 

Dr Mary Bousted, joint general secretary of the National Education Union, said:

"Schools and colleges will certainly not be celebrating 30 years of Ofsted. They have suffered for decades at the hands of an inspection system that is not fit for purpose

‘Ofsted causes immense unnecessary workload, significantly contributes to the reason behind teachers leaving the profession and due to its limited remit, provides scant evidence of the true work undertaken by schools. Research shows that Ofsted is unfairly biased against schools and colleges in poor areas and is far more likely to slap them with an unjust negative judgement – even if they are improving.

'Ofsted is an unfair and unreliable inspectorate which must be replaced with a new system that is supportive, effective and fair.”  


Editor’s Note

Ofsted Regional Offices: 

London: Clive House, 70 Petty France, London, SW1H 9EX.  

Bristol: 2 Rivergate (level 1), Temple Quay, Bristol, BS1 6EH.  

Manchester: Piccadilly Gate, Store Street, Manchester, M12WD.  

Nottingham: Building C, Cumberland Place, Park Row, Nottingham, NG1 2HJ.  

Cambridge: Eastbrook, Shaftesbury Road, Cambridge, CB2 8DR.  

Birmingham: Stephenson Street, Birmingham, B2 4DH.  

York: Foss House, Lowther Street, York, Yorkshire, YO31 7EE.  

Read the full Replace Ofsted: let teachers teach petition here.   

Find out more about the campaign here.