Christine Blower: Ofsted is not up to the task of policing our schools

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The NUT has very great concerns about the new inspections framework for schools. Ofsted's decision to "raise the bar" in its approach to school inspection is causing anger and fear among teachers.

There is a strong perception that inspectors are attempting to over emphasise issues or "catch schools out" on safeguarding issues in particular. Trivial issues are being used to downgrade schools and inspectors are acting to a rigid formula which often takes no account of evidence.

The new framework contains "limiting judgements" on pupil attainment, safeguarding and equality of achievement, which means that if schools receive a low judgement in one of these areas the overall judgement cannot be better. An arbitrary limiting judgement can lead to a school being deemed to have failed.

Examples that have been brought to our attention include; the lead inspector, on entering school on the first day, marking down the school because the head did not immediately ask for their Criminal Records Bureau check and a first school being marked down because of the low height of its perimeter fence. Added to all this, evidence suggests little attention is paid to the contextual value-added data (which measures how much a school has improved a pupil's performance) when making final judgements about schools. So however hard a school tries it cannot gain an outstanding designation if its outcomes in national tests or examinations are below Government targets.

Christine Blower is General Secretary of the NUT

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