Commenting on a working paper by UCL researchers, published today, which looks at 2018 Talis to weigh up the pros and cons of school accountability in the English schools system, Kevin Courtney, joint general secretary of the National Education Union, said:

“We have known from our own data and the government's workload survey that accountability drives workload. This important analysis from UCL, showing that England is towards the top of the international accountability scale, now points to links between accountability and stress. Both high workload and high stress are factors in teachers and leaders deciding to leave the profession.

“The UCL analysis also highlights cases of schools where stress caused by accountability is higher than in others. We know from our members that in-school accountability processes, imposed because of the pressures of Ofsted and league tables, are often causes of pointless bureaucracy and stressful managerialism.

“This is obviously a long-term problem, but it is particularly clear at this time that it's not helpful for Ofsted to continue to inspect schools and colleges while staff are working hard to reintegrate their students back into the classroom after a year dominated by lockdowns. Right now, we need an undivided focus on what matters.

“There needs to be an overhaul of the whole accountability system, including league tables and how Ofsted inspects, if we are to stop teachers and leaders leaving because of unmanageable stress levels, and if we are to encourage new teachers into the profession.”