Let teachers teach
Teachers and leaders work under the shadow cast by Ofsted. An unfair and unreliable inspectorate.
As Ofsted approaches its 30-year anniversary, now is the right time to examine what effect its inspections have on the quality of education that teachers and leaders are able to provide and, in particular, for our most disadvantaged pupils.
In 2017, the National Audit Office concluded that: "Ofsted does not know whether its school inspections are having the intended impact: to raise the standards of education and improve the quality of children's and young people's lives."
Ofsted has never published any research to prove that its inspections accurately reflect the quality of education schools provide. Comprehensive, independent analysis of Ofsted judgements show they discriminate against schools in deprived areas – awarding 'outstanding' grades to four times more secondary schools with better-off pupils than schools with students who are worse off. A major research study showed that, even when schools in deprived areas are making excellent value-added progress, they are still more likely to be given poor Ofsted judgements.
Teachers and leaders know that working in disadvantaged areas is likely to be harmful to their careers because of the unfairness of Ofsted judgements. It is harder to recruit and retain teachers in these schools. Poor children, who most need qualified and experienced teachers if they are to fulfil their potential, are least likely to get them.
School inspection must be fair. It should be supportive. It should not be, as too many Ofsted inspections are, punitive.
The stress and unsustainable workload generated by Ofsted is a major factor in the appalling teacher retention rates that blight English education. Nearly 40 per cent of teachers leave the profession within ten years. No education system can improve while it haemorrhages school leaders and teachers. We must create a new approach to school and college evaluation which is effective and fair.