Angela Rayner: Ofsted is 'not fit for purpose'

Shadow education secretary says that the inspectorate would be 'completely different' if Labour was in government

Martin George

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Ofsted is “not fit for purpose” and would be “completely different” under a Labour government, the shadow education secretary has said.

Angela Rayner criticised the inspectorate for its approach to children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND).

However, the inspectorate rejected her claims, saying inspectors “pay particular attention” to how well schools support these pupils.

Asked what Ofsted would look like in three years’ time if she was education secretary, Ms Rayner said: “It would be completely different to what it is now, I can promise you that. It’s not fit for purpose at the moment. It’s clearly not doing the job it’s meant to do.”

She told delegates at this month’s Education Britain Summit in Manchester about the contrasting approaches that two schools rated “outstanding” and “good” had when she was looking for a place for her son, Charlie, who has special educational needs.

She said the former asked questions about the amount of support he would need, while the latter was “falling over themselves” to take Charlie.

Ofsted 'doesn't celebrate the differences'

“That’s the difference to me,” she said. “Ofsted wouldn’t have measured it that way.

“My Charlie doesn’t do you any favours with the current Ofsted regime, he would probably make his school a failure and you would probably want to wheedle him out, and that’s why it would be completely different, because it doesn’t celebrate the differences and the abilities of all children at the moment.”

She added that Ofsted “doesn’t allow teachers to teach”, and had been “used very politically for forced academisation”.

An Ofsted spokesperson said: "When inspecting the many thousands of schools across this country, inspectors pay particular attention to how well schools support pupils who have special educational needs.

“The extent to which schools are supporting pupils with special educational needs to achieve their potential has a direct bearing on our judgements. Schools where our inspectors see that children with SEND are not being supported will not achieve an outstanding judgement.

“Ofsted's independent reports play an important role in helping parents choose which school to send their child to. However, we would always recommend visiting a school and talking to the headteacher before deciding whether a school will suit their child’s particular needs.”

This week, Ofsted published a report raising concerns about schools using unofficial exclusions as a way of dealing with children with SEND.

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Martin George

Martin George

Martin George is a reporter at Tes

Find me on Twitter @geomr

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