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Ofsted not fit for purpose, according to president of Nottinghamshire branch of the National Education Union

Teachers believe education watchdog Ofsted isn’t fit for purpose, a Nottinghamshire union representative has said after a damning inquiry into the regulator.

An inquiry published yesterday (November 20) recommends sweeping changes to the system of how schools are monitored and inspected.

Rob Illingworth, president of the Nottinghamshire branch of the National Education Union, said Ofsted visits cause greater stress and workload for teachers without giving much insight into a school’s performance.

Female Student Raising Hand To Ask Question In Classroom. iStock image
Female Student Raising Hand To Ask Question In Classroom. iStock image

He called for a new system which would support schools rather than punish them.

Ofsted says its inspections are a way of ensuring high standards of education for all children.

“It’s unanimous amongst teachers that Ofsted isn’t fit for purpose,” Mr Illingworth said.

“The government says Ofsted ratings give parents confidence, but I don’t know a single one who uses them.

“They aren’t even that accurate. Looking at the school tells you much more.

“I’ve worked at a school that has been rated [by Ofsted] ‘Good’, ‘Requires Improvement’ and ‘Inadequate’, and I haven’t seen much difference on the ground between those years.

“It’s more to do with results than teaching, and we know lower socio-economic areas have a harder time getting high results.”

Controversy has surrounded Ofsted since headteacher Ruth Perry took her own life in January, following news her school, Caversham Primary in Berkshire, was being downgraded by Ofsted from ‘outstanding’ to ‘requires improvement’.

Mr Illingworth said inspections are “very high stakes” and can lead to lots of additional work for teachers.

“There’s a constant creep. One inspection might create an extra 50 hours of work a year, and then another, and then another,” he said.

“Schools aren’t recruiting enough teachers to deal with this, and this year has the lowest ever number in training. We are losing more every year as the workload increases.”

The Beyond Ofsted inquiry, led by former schools minister Lord Jim Knight and funded by the NEU, recommends schools be allowed to carry out their own improvement plans.

However, Mr Illingworth worried this wouldn’t be fair as “academy trusts have no reason to be objective.”

“Schools used to be monitored by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate, which was more supportive and offered guidance – I would like to see something like that comes back,” he said.

A spokesman for Ofsted said following the report: “Children only get one chance at education, and inspection helps make sure that education standards are high for all children.

“We always want inspections to be a constructive experience for school staff.

“Our inspectors are all former or current school leaders and well understand the nature and pressures of the work.”

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