Commenting on the publication of Ofsted’s Annual Report, Kevin Courtney, joint general secretary of the National Education Union, said:   

"Ofsted is right to acknowledge that their annual report comes in the midst of an extraordinary time for schools, pupils and staff.

"Schools are scrabbling to do the best they possibly can for their pupils, with too little money and insufficient support and guidance from Government. Other services that support children and young people are also struggling, leaving schools to provide much more than education to pupils and families.  

"We all know that children are better off in school, both because they learn better and because of the care that schools provide, but the lack of resources and space to provide for social distancing mean too many schools are having to send pupils home because of positive cases in schools or because they do not have enough staff.  

"Teacher and leader workload has gone through the roof during this pandemic. While much of this has been unavoidable, in order to make schools as Covid-secure as possible, too many teachers are also under pressure to prepare for the return of Ofsted inspections. And Ofsted is misguided in its confidence in returning to using the Education Inspection Framework when full inspections restart, failing to acknowledge that the EIF has had a devastating impact on workload, particularly on primary schools. 

"The best thing Ofsted could do today would be to announce that their routine inspections will not begin again this academic year. 

"In matters of curriculum, Ofsted tells Government only what it wants to know. Those who work in schools have long pointed to the damage being done by the government's dogmatic preference for one model of teaching reading, based on synthetic phonics. Research published last week by UCL suggested that most teachers think new phonics tests for Year 2 pupils are a waste of children's time. Such voices are not heard in this report. It is remarkable, also, that in a year when many schools have been passionately engaged with issues of racism, social justice and equality, Ms Spielman can find no space for them in her report."