Teachers set to inspect the inspectors

In response to the deep concerns of the teaching profession about current school inspection frameworks, the NASUWT, the largest teachers’ union, is today launching an ‘Inspect the Inspectors’ online tool, which gives teachers and school leaders the opportunity to critique how inspection was carried out in their school, how the inspection team behaved and whether they met all of the provisions of the inspection code of conduct.

A teacher selected for observation by an inspection team will immediately afterwards be able to log on to the online tool and rate the inspectors.  At the conclusion of the whole inspection, school leaders and other staff will be able to evaluate the inspection process.

The NASUWT will use the information to produce and publish reports.
The information will be analysed to identify where there are recurring problems with particular inspection teams or lead inspectors, to assess the consistency of judgements made and to check whether the inspectors are conforming to Ofsted’s own advice.

Similar tools are being developed to evaluate Estyn inspections in Wales and ETI inspections in Northern Ireland and will be launched shortly.

‘Inspect the Inspectors’ is being launched as teachers begin to gather for the NASUWT’s Annual Conference this weekend in Birmingham, where representatives will debate a motion on inspection, arguing that current inspection systems across the UK are not fit for purpose.

An NASUWT snapshot survey of almost 2,000 teachers on their views on Ofsted revealed a wholly negative view of the way inspection operates.

Teachers were asked to complete the sentence ‘The trouble with Ofsted is…’

Responses included: The Trouble with Ofsted is…
“It works for Government not for schools”;
“It is not accountable to anyone and the inspections are carried out by people who have not taught for years, if at all”;
“It is negative, demoralising and destructive when it could and should be positive, enhancing, inspiring and constructive”;
“They only look at the data, not the school, ethos and dedication of the staff;”
“They want you to look at the bigger picture but are blinkered themselves”;
“The inspection system has significant problems, including confusion about what Ofsted's inspectors are looking for, as well as a culture of fear around inspection which hampers innovation and sensible risk-taking”;
“It is formulaic and doesn't address teachers that are set on inspiring students’ curiosity and inquisitive nature”.

The comments received will be displayed at Conference and the teachers attending will be asked to vote on the quote they believe is most representative of the problems with Ofsted. The teacher whose quote is selected will win a prize.

Chris Keates, General Secretary of the NASUWT, said:

“The online tool we have launched today is a major step in the strong resistance which now needs to be mounted against punitive accountability.

“It will empower teachers and school leaders to take back some professional control.

“Teachers are not afraid of inspection. They understand that working in a public service funded by billions of pounds of taxpayers’ money means that there has to be a strong accountability framework.

“However, teachers and schools must be held to account for the right things.

“The accountability system must be fit for purpose and secure public trust and confidence.

“Ofsted meets none of those criteria and disappointingly inspection systems in other parts of the UK are emulating this flawed model.

“The Ofsted brand is now seriously tainted. It is increasingly seen, not as an independent regulator, acting in the public interest, holding government to account, but the highly politicised agent of the Secretary of State, enforcing Coalition education policies in schools.

“But one of its worst features is the climate of fear it has created across all schools. disempowering teachers and school leaders and forcing practices which meet the needs of Ofsted, rather than the needs of children and young people.”

NASUWT press contacts
Ben Padley 07785 463 119
Amanda Williamson 07741 246 202
Lena Davies 07867 392 746

The NASUWT Annual Conference is being held from April 18-21 at the ICC in Birmingham.