NUT: Demos report on Ofsted

Commenting on the Demos report Detoxifying School Accountability, Christine Blower, General Secretary of the National Union of Teachers, the largest teachers’ union, said:

“The report is quite right when it states that Ofsted as a measure of accountability in schools is both ‘toxic’ and does not lead to an improvement in education. The NUT has long called for an inspection system which supports, not punishes, schools.

“Of course there has to be accountability in schools, but Ofsted clearly is not the answer. We need, as the report suggests, a rigorous system of school self-evaluation with light touch external moderation to ensure that schools are assessing their progress correctly. The evidence from other countries shows that where teachers ‘own’ assessment and evaluation, standards go up, not down.

“Negative judgements handed out by Ofsted inspectors – often people with no recent teaching experience – have a huge impact on schools. The Coalition Government’s decree that schools who ‘fail’ their Ofsted inspection can be forced to accept academy status makes the process even more high stakes. Many staff, including head teachers, feel the pressure of Ofsted inspections to be intolerable and would rather leave the profession than go through it all again.

“Schools facing an Ofsted visit can also spend much of their time focusing on the areas the inspection will concentrate on rather than teaching and learning in the broadest sense. This can lead to over drilling in some subjects and neglect of others. This is not a good use of pupils’ or teachers’ time. For the sake of education we must look at ways to change the inspection system.”

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