Commenting on the passing of Motion 5 at the National Education Union’s Annual Conference, which is being held virtually, Dr Mary Bousted, joint general secretary of the National Education Union, said: 

“Our latest survey of over 10,000 members casts Ofsted in a very poor light. As we emerge from a time of great challenge for the education system and all who work in it, there is no taste for the return of full inspections. 77% of respondents told us that if Government are to truly support us during the recovery, they need to put both Ofsted and performance tables on the backburner throughout this academic year and the next. (1)

“Recovery is not a one-term effort. At this time, we must focus on the needs of pupils and what schools and their staff judge to be the best approaches to rebuilding on-site learning.

“Even to set aside Covid, we already knew that Ofsted was not fit for purpose. Inspections are by definition judgemental but these are judgements without solutions. They are crude snapshot assessments of the work of a school or college, conducted without much regard for local context and certainly without a full sense of a school or college’s year-round work. And even by its own admission, Ofsted cannot guarantee consistency or fairness in the work that they do. For many years they have sent inspectors unqualified in the phases or subjects they are required to inspect.

“Plans to return to full inspections from September indicate that the Education Inspection Framework will be foisted upon workplaces where it is utterly inappropriate. Primary schools cannot jump through those hoops as they do not organise on a subject basis in the way secondaries do.

“We need to see a new, fair and reliable system of inspection which works with schools, gives them confidence to make changes, and generates meaningful, accurate and reliable information about the school their child attends. Our current inspections system offers none of this.

“Ofsted is not an agent of change. It is a blunt instrument – a wholly negative presence in schools, never offering constructive advice. Its determination to get back into schools at the earliest opportunity has been unseemly. Ofsted is a symbol of the dead hand of Government, of its lack of trust in the profession, and must be abolished.”