NEU remains “deeply sceptical” over Ofsted plans

The NEU says it remains “deeply sceptical” over plans by Ofsted to change the way it carries out its inspections.

Under the new proposals, schools that push out less able children – a practice known as “off-rolling” – or teach a narrow curriculum designed solely to improve test results and gaming league table rankings risk being punished by Ofsted’s inspectors.

NEU joint general secretary Dr Mary Bousted said: “Ofsted makes bold and ambitious claims for its new inspection framework, but the National Education Union remains deeply sceptical about whether these will be realised.

“The uncomfortable truth for Ofsted is that the practices it deplores – the narrowing of the school curriculum and teaching to the test – have been the results of its own enforcement, through inspection, of a range of narrow measures to judge school quality.

“None of these narrow accountability measures are being abolished. Schools will still be measured on the percentage of their pupils following the EBacc, GCSE results, progress 8 and attainment 8.

“Added to these quantitative measures, Ofsted intends to make qualitative judgements on the curriculum. Ofsted’s own research shows that those HMI doing the trial inspections asked how they could make curriculum judgements in the time available for inspection. How complex, detailed, value-laden judgements will be made consistently across England’s 20,000 schools is the fundamental question – and one that Ofsted cannot answer.

“Ofsted’s reputation as a reliable arbiter of school quality is gravely damaged. Government ministers are well aware that Ofsted judgements on schools are overwhelmingly based on the characteristics of their pupil intake rather than the education they provide.

“The NEU believes that there is no more time to tinker with Ofsted. England needs a new system of school accountability – one that keeps good teachers and school leaders in the profession, working to improve the life chances of our children and young people.”

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