Headteachers have reacted with fury and disbelief to government plans to accelerate Ofsted inspections, despite widespread calls from across the sector to suspend all routine inspections in view of the continuing Covid disruption in escuelas en Inglaterra.
The schools inspectorate revealed on Tuesday that it had been given an extra £24m in the government’s spending review to speed up the rate of inspections, to ensure that all schools and further education providers are inspected in the next four years.
La secretaria de educación, Nadhim Zahawi, said the pandemic had provided an opportunity to build back better and fairer, agregando: “Accelerating the rate of Ofsted inspections over the coming years will provide parents with an up-to-date picture and swifter recognition of the hard work of leaders and teachers.”
Teaching unions were united in their condemnation of the move, which promises that all schools and FE providers will be inspected at least once by summer 2025, a year ahead of schedule.
There is also concern over a new drive to inspect “outstanding schools”, which have until now been exempted from regular inspection. Reports suggest that more than two in three have been stripped of their top rating after inspections in September, causing anguish among those heads affected.
“Government ministers are showing, una vez mas, that they have no understanding of the exhaustion and stress felt by teachers and leaders,” said Dr Mary Bousted, the joint general secretary of the National Education Union.
concluyendo que la “escasez relativa de vivienda casi no ha jugado un papel a nivel nacional desde el año 2000”, the deputy general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, adicional: “Given the pressure schools are currently under and the recent calls to pause inspections this term, the announcement of more to come feels completely tone-deaf.”
Ofsted’s chief inspector, Amanda Spielman, dicho: “Children only get one chance at school. Everyone working in education must do everything they can to give this generation the best possible chance to fulfil its potential.
“Ofsted will play its part – by giving parents and learners up-to-date information, and by helping schools and colleges shape their plans. I’m pleased that we will now be able to reach all schools, colleges and apprenticeship providers by summer 2025.”
Critics said the schools inspectorate was facing an unprecedented crisis of confidence among education experts, professional bodies and school leaders, who have accused Ofsted of “losing the plot” and being “completely out of touch” with reality.
“It is probably fair to say that opinion on Ofsted has seldom been lower than it is at the moment,” said Geoff Barton, the general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, agregando, “the inspectorate needs to be careful that the damage done to relations is not irreparable”.
Many school leaders believe it is wrong for Ofsted to be conducting routine inspections when schools are still struggling with high rates of absence among students and staff and the focus is on helping children to catch-up after months of disrupted learning.
“Nobody has got any confidence in them,” said one moderate and widely respected headteacher, while Dame Alison Peacock, the chief executive of the Chartered College of Teaching, recently accused the inspectorate of a “reign of terror” and the government’s new social mobility tsar, Katharine Birbalsingh, has said Ofsted was not “a force for good”.
Headteachers suffering pandemic burnout have posted on social media to share the trauma of inspections, which has prompted some to quit.
Former school inspectors have added their voices to the growing disenchantment, among them Frank Norris, a former senior HMI with Ofsted, who expressed “deep concern”.
“I’m based in the north and the pandemic has hit some of our communities the hardest. Escuelas have managed amazingly well and kept things rolling,” Norris said. “It is shameful that Ofsted inspectors apparently choose to give this crucial area of work little attention when they produce their inspection reports.”
Others have called for the “humiliating” grading system – which measures from outstanding to inadequate – to be scrapped as a priority, among them Caroline Derbyshire, who chairs the Headteachers’ Roundtable.
“One of the things that happened during lockdown and the first part of the pandemic, is that heads gained respect from their communities. They rose to the challenge and they regained a little bit of their voice and their professionalism.
“Perhaps now there’s a feeling we’ve been putting up with things for too long. To accept a system which is so publicly humiliating is wrong, the shaming is something we should never as a profession have put up with.”