Improve standards by allowing heads to inspect schools, Ofsted told

Headteachers should make it part of their duties to carry out school inspections, the country’s biggest heads’ organisation will declare later this week.

The move is designed to combat growing concern over the standard of school inspections which has prompted one think-tank to declare that grading teachers might just as well be done “by the flip of the coin”.

A document to be put to the National Association of Head Teachers’ annual conference next weekend will include a move to make it the duty of every NAHT member to become a school inspector.

Sir Michael Wilshaw, the Chief Inspector of Schools, had already expressed his own concerns about the standard of inspections – saying he would like to see more serving heads volunteering to become inspectors. He is also to review the employment of three private contractors which carry out the bulk of inspections.

In an interview with The Independent, Russell Hobby, the NAHT’s general secretary, said: “One of the proposals in our manifesto is that we ask members whether it should be a duty of membership of the NAHT to participate in the inspection process.

“All members would be inspecting other heads’ schools. We have had an informal survey of our members and 80 per cent said it would be a good idea.”

The association, whose annual conference begins in Birmingham on Friday, has already set up its own “Instead” inspection service – whereby members informally inspect other members’ schools. The move is seen as helpful in preparing schools for their official visit by the education standards watchdog Ofsted.

However, under the proposal, Mr Hobby believes Ofsted could be relieved from the burden of inspecting all state schools – and allow them to concentrate on those which are struggling.

“The problem at the moment is the quality of teams and the lack of experienced school leaders in them,” he said.

The plan comes as the conference prepares to debate a series of motions critical of Ofsted. One urges Sir Michael to make a clear declaration that “poor Ofsted teams and poor inspectors do exist”. The conference will also be urged to debate a motion voicing concern about how easy it is for a complainant to trigger an emergency inspection. “Many anonymous and vexatious complaints about schools arise from unjustified grievances and are a waste of public money and resources,” it adds.

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