Kevin Courtney, joint general secretary, National Education Union, comments on the PAC report into Ofsted.
“The PAC report highlights some significant concerns about Ofsted – that it doesn’t listen sufficiently to parents’ views about their school, that it has failed to provide accurate information to Parliament and that the chief inspector (HMCI) has failed to speak truth to power.
The report also rightly criticises the Department for Education for failing to address the confusion and duplication of roles of Ofsted and the Regional Schools Commissioners in respect of school improvement. This wastes taxpayers’ money and means schools in need of support may fall through the gap.
“However on the key issues the PAC report fails to grasp the nettle. What we need is a root and branch reform of school inspection. We need to empower teachers and school leaders to identify areas of strength and weakness in their school. All local schools should work collaboratively, not in competition, through peer review to ensure our school system as a whole continues to provide the highest quality education possible for all children and young people.
“The National Education Union believes the current school inspection system is not fit for purpose. There is an inconsistent approach to the use of data and the approach taken by inspectors, and serious concerns about the quality of inspectors. The absence of respectful professional dialogue between inspectors and teachers is harmful. An effective school evaluation system should enable schools to 'know themselves' honestly in order to support their development and effectiveness. The current system de-skills teachers and disempowers school leaders.
“It is time for a complete overhaul. Ofsted must be abolished and replaced with a system of school self-review and peer evaluation, with quality assurance by local inspectors (HMIs) and an HMCI that is unafraid to speak truth to power”.