We wholeheartedly support the call from the Headteachers’ Roundtable group for school staff to resign as Ofsted additional inspectors. We share the concerns that the new Ofsted framework is telling schools how to teach – something that is beyond its remit. To quote Stephen Tierney, the chair of Headteachers’ Roundtable, the inspectorate is “ in effect developing a new orthodoxy – a one-size-fits-all ‘Ofsted Curriculum’. “
There have been alarming accounts of schools being downgraded partly on the basis of random questioning of individual students on their apparent knowledge of aspects of the national curriculum.
This is wrong on so many levels. Education is so much more than “knowing more and remembering more”, one of the inspectorate’s favourite new mantras; students shouldn’t be singled out in this way and their anonymous quotes then used in judgments – it will be obvious both to the student and staff who said what, and this places an intolerable burden on the student; this approach takes no account of the student’s state of mind – they may be nervous or have their own particular issues, meaning their answer is unreliable. In short, an academic who adopted this approach would lose the respect of their colleagues. Judging schools in this way is not tenable.
As Tierney so rightly says, the knowledge of how to improve schools sits with leaders and teachers working in their contexts and with their peers. “To truly improve our schools, we need a system founded on the principle that there is no single way to improve a school.”
We are excited to see heads taking matters into their own hands because this is the only way in which our deeply wounded school system can begin to be healed.