15 June 2015

Commenting on the launch of Ofsted’s new inspections framework, Christine Blower, General Secretary of the National Union of Teachers, the largest teachers’ union, said:

“The NUT welcomes Ofsted’s acknowledgement that there have been inconsistencies in Ofsted inspections. The changes indicate that Ofsted accepts it has failed to guarantee the quality or consistency of its inspection teams.

“Teachers will find it risible that the Chief Inspector pledges that schools rated good or outstanding will have ‘nothing to fear’ from his inspectors. This is no assurance to the many schools now targeted by Nicky Morgan for ‘coasting’ or ‘failing’, who can expect business as usual from Ofsted. Sir Michael has overseen a climate of fear in his three and a half years as Chief Inspector.

“The introduction of the designation ‘exceptional leaders’ points towards the creation of what amounts to a new category of judgement, one that can be used as a stick to beat school leaders whom Ofsted has not blessed with this accolade.

“Indeed, it is noticeable that Wilshaw’s flattery of those heads in charge of ‘outstanding’ schools does not extend to teachers or governors at those same schools. This fundamentally misunderstands how a school operates and thrives. In addition, it is absurd of the Chief Inspector to call for more ‘mavericks’ in leadership roles, when there is a recruitment crisis, and an accountability system which actively discourages head teachers from being innovative or willing to take risks.

“Unfortunately, many schools will still find Ofsted an unsympathetic menace and today’s announcement will come as little comfort to those that were subject to inspections in which the quality of inspection teams was questionable. Those schools are still living with the consequences of Ofsted misjudgements.

“Ofsted, as with the Department for Education, has a startling inability to recognise that they are part of the problem. Quite simply, Ofsted should be abolished and replaced by a new model of school accountability which is independent and perceived to be so and which has been developed in conjunction with the teaching profession.”

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