Exclusive: Teachers 'drown in Ofsted workload tsunami'

Union leader says primary teachers face extra workload to meet demands of new inspections, amid concerns Ofsted did not consider impact on smaller schools

Mary Bousted says Ofsted inspections are driving teachers' workload.

Primary teachers are being drowned by a tsunami of extra work caused by Ofsted’s new inspection framework, a teaching union leader has warned.

The National Education Union’s joint general secretary Mary Bousted said primary school teachers were being required to complete masses of paperwork because schools do not trust the reliability of inspection teams.

She said she was furious to hear about the demands being placed on primary school teachers because of the new inspections focused on the curriculum.


Background: Union fears over inspection impact on teachers' workload

Quick read: Small schools concern over new inspections

Ofsted: New inspections 'will reduce your workload'


Writing for Tes she said the NEU had been inundated with reports of extra work faced by primary school teachers who are subject leads.

Her comments come amid fears that Ofsted did not take the impact of the new framework on smaller school into account.

She said: “This simple fact seems to have escaped Ofsted.  The new inspection framework has clearly been designed with secondary school management structures, and resources, in mind.

Ofsted deep dives

“Even more worrying is the fact that Ofsted inspectors are doing deep dives into subjects and age phases they have never taught and in which they have no subject expertise. 

"And this comes back to Ofsted’s Achilles heel – the variable quality of their inspection teams.  The reason that so many schools are now drowning under a fresh tsunami of Ofsted preparation work is because school leaders cannot be confident in the quality of the inspection team which comes through their school gate. So, they require teachers to protect themselves, and their school, in paperwork."

Dr Bousted said primary teachers were being asked to produce paperwork to document the intent, implementation and impact of the curriculum area they lead, without any time or management responsibility.

She added: “No one seems to have noticed the bleeding obvious – that these teachers have no time to observe their colleagues teaching. Moreover, they have no authority to assess the standard of their colleagues’ work. They have no time, or authority, to monitor their colleagues’ planning and assessment.”

Ofsted’s new inspections focus on the curriculum as part of a new quality of education grade which has replaced teaching and learning and pupil outcomes as separate inspection judgements.

Inspectors look at the curriculum through deep dives into particular subjects.

Small schools

Deputy head teacher Michael Merrick has said that it is "genuinely appalling" that Ofsted has admitted it did not study the impact of its new framework on small schools when it was carrying out trial inspections.

Posting on Twitter he highlighted a response to a freedom of information act request in which Ofsted said it did  not have a summary or analysis document of the findings from trial inspections on small schools.

Mike Sheridan, Ofsted’s regional director for London, has previously admitted that staff in small schools are worried about the workload caused by the "deep dives" into the curriculum during new inspections.

In a blogpost last month he said: “I know that some small schools are nervous about the new education inspection framework (EIF) and the demands that our ‘deep dives’ will place on staff.

"Some are worried about the workload implications for teachers who are coordinating multiple subjects and balancing other responsibilities as well.

He said he wanted to reassure staff that “inspectors understand the unique challenges you face as small schools. They’ll take account of the way you organise the curriculum and leadership of subject areas”.

Ofsted has also said previously that its new inspection framework will reduce teachers’ workload.

Inspectors will no longer look at internal data and the new education inspection framework assesses how well school leaders take their staff’s workload into account as part of the judgement on the leadership and management of a school.

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