Exclusive: 'Brutal' Ofsted leaves teachers 'shattered'

Headteachers warn new Ofsted inspections are 'like an Andrew Neil interview' and leave teachers needing counselling

The NAHT school leaders' union has warned about the impact of Ofsted's new school inspection framework

Ofsted’s new inspections have shattered the confidence of new and experienced teachers and left staff needing counselling, school leaders have warned.

The NAHT school leaders' union has also said that the impact of the  inspectorate’s new framework could undermine the government’s attempt to solve the teacher recruitment and retention crisis.

In a new report, it warns that the first wave of Ofsted’s new inspections have resulted in staff losing break times and lunch or staying late after school to satisfy the watchdog’s demands.


Exclusive:  NAHT calls for Ofsted inspections to be reformed

Reaction: Schools describe new inspections as 'brutal, better, intense.'

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The document, seen by Tes, sets out NAHT members' views from the first term of Ofsted inspections under the watchdog's new curriculum-focused framework.

The union reports that the new framework, with deep dives into particular subjects as part of Ofsted’s assessment of the curriculum, has had a negative impact on teachers and subject leads.

Ofsted inspections 'increase teacher workload'

“The experience of inspection is regularly described by school leaders and their staff as ‘brutal’," the report says. 

"Some school leaders have been barred from accompanying and supporting classroom teachers and subject coordinators in interviews with inspectors.

"Questioning during ‘deep-dives’ is often very challenging – one described it as being like an interview with [BBC TV interviewer] Andrew Neil.”

The report adds: "School leaders report that the confidence of recently qualified and experienced teachers who coordinate subjects has been shattered, necessitating the counselling of staff."

The report also notes that some school leaders have found the experience of inspection under the new framework to be less stressful and reported that there had been better-focused discussions on the curriculum.

It is positive about the new 90-minute phone call which takes place between the school and the lead inspector a day before formal inspection starts.

It says that in most cases school leaders report that inspectors have conducted the 90-minute phone call in “a collegiate manner, which has offered an opportunity to discuss their school’s context and strengths”.

But the NAHT document warns that, overall, inspection under the new framework “impacts significantly on the wellbeing of individual teachers and leaders, the day-to-day operation of a school and the delivery of the curriculum to pupils".

And it adds: “It risks undermining the Department for Education’s fledgling recruitment and retention strategy.”

The NAHT’s general secretary, Paul Whiteman, said: “We have discussed the findings of this report with Ofsted. It is clear that our views differ on how well the inspection framework has performed within the first term.

"Regardless, it is not in the interests of pupils that teachers and school leaders should be subjected to increased and unnecessary workload associated with inspection.

“Nor is it desirable that the high-stakes of inspection should be reinforced, as we know this drives good people from a profession which already struggles to recruit and retain both leaders and teachers. The only way to guarantee that inspection is fair and reliable is to take the views of these professionals into account.”

Last year the NAHT led a commission which warned that Ofsted was part of an accountability system that was doing more harm than good in schools.

An Ofsted spokesperson said: "This framework was the most widely consulted on in Ofsted’s history, and anchored in solid research.

"So far we’ve carried out over 1,200 full inspections and section 8 inspections of 'good' and non-exempt schools. The feedback we receive continues to be very positive.

“In post-inspection surveys, nearly nine out of 10 respondents said they were satisfied with the way their inspection was carried out.

“That said, we recognise that those feeding back to the NAHT have identified areas for improved implementation.

"These mostly mirror the concerns raised by some to us directly – for example, the logistics of implementation in small schools, how headteachers and other senior leaders might support subject leads, and the extent to which inspectors can cover the expectations of the framework in the time available on site.

“We welcome this feedback from the NAHT and our continuing dialogue about the implementation of the new framework. We look forward to continuing to work with the NAHT in the coming months."

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