The Liberal Democrats would abolish Ofsted as part of new plans that would scrap much of the current school accountability regime.
The plans set out in a new education policy paper, Every Child Empowered: Education for a changing world, being discussed at the party’s Spring Conference this weekend, also include scrapping existing SATs, overhauling league tables and abolishing regional schools commissioners
The document, proposed by education spokesperson Layla Moran, highlights concerns about the “reliability and validity” of Ofsted judgements and “the negative impact of the inspection regime on schools, teachers and pupils”.
The Lib Dems would replace Ofsted with “a new HM Inspector of Schools, drawing on the best traditions of Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Schools” with inspection reports covering pupil welfare, the promotion of equality of opportunity and teacher workload, sickness and retention, as well as attainment measures.
Liberal Democrats' plans
Under the plans, all state and independent schools would be inspected under the same regime every three years, and given one of three grades: "good", "requires improvement" or "requires support".
The document would see the existing mandatory Sats at key stage 1 and key stage 2 abolished to “reduce unnecessary stress on pupils and teachers” and to end teaching to the test.
They would be replaced with “a formal, moderated teacher assessment at the end of each phase and some lighter touch testing”.
The policy paper also calls for existing league tables to be replaced with “a reformed system including more qualitative information about schools”.
It says this would be based on submissions by schools, which are verified by peer-to-peer review and feedback from pupils, teachers and parental governors, and cover “the performance and ethos of the school, including information on pastoral care, mental health support offered to pupils, and the breath of subjects offered”, as well as destination data for secondary schools.
'Lessons for life'
The paper says overall exam data for schools would still be publicly available, allowing schools' exam results to be compared, but the additional data would give parents and pupils “much more rounded context in which to place it”.
The document says the party would abolish the regional schools commissioners, citing critics who say they “are very expensive” and their work with headteacher boards is “highly opaque”.
Other policies include ending the presumption that new schools have to be free schools.
Ms Moran said: “The over-emphasis on high-stakes testing has meant the system has overlooked so many other elements of the development of the child. Parents want to know there [sic] children’s well-being is looked after and that they are taught lessons for life, such as first aid and financial literacy, and have the prospects to succeed.
“We need inspectorate and league table systems that recognise these values, in addition to looking at exam and test marks in maths and English.”