Ofsted and league tables create 'stressed and disaffected pupils', research says

Stephen Exley

Pressure caused by league tables, floor targets and Ofsted inspections creates “anxious, stressed and disaffected pupils”, according to a new report.

The research led by Merryn Hutchings, emeritus professor of education at London Metropolitan University, also argues that the current accountability system means students “receive a narrow education at the expense of a broad and balanced curriculum”.

Students are “pressured to work at a level for which they are not yet ready” to ensure their schools are seen to be performing well, according to the interim report. As part of the study carried out for the NUT – which holds its annual conference in Harrogate this weekend - Professor Hutchings surveyed more than 8,000 of the union’s members.

He concludes that “ pupils are losing self-confidence and motivation as a direct consequence of accountability measures”, and that teachers have less time to focus on pupils’ social and emotional development.

Professor Hutchings also argues that Ofsted grades are strongly related to the proportion of disadvantaged pupils in a school.

Of the teachers surveyed, 84 per cent said that the focus on academic targets meant social and emotional aspects of education tended to be neglected, while 93 per cent said there were fewer opportunities for pupils to engage in creative, investigative and practical activities.

Almost all respondents (97 per cent) said they were spending most time on maths and English teaching to the detriment of other subjects; 90 per cent said some pupils were being asked to learn things for which they are not yet ready.

NUT general secretary Christine Blower said: “What gets lost for those who matter most, the pupils, is the rounded education that we all wish to see and the emotional and pastoral support that children and young people also need from their teachers.

 “Despite a mass of evidence that accountability mechanisms fail to achieve their stated aims, it is clear that the Coalition Government has only worsened matters.

"It is deeply saddening that some of the pupils interviewed as part of this research feel reduced to a statistic – jumping through hoops for the benefit of others, and with no space to discover the creative and positive learning that school should provide.”


Related links:

Burnout, anxiety…and that’s just the staff - 8 August 2014

Ofqual chief warns of exam results rollercoaster - 1 August 2014

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Stephen Exley

Stephen Exley

Stephen Exley is a freelance writer, director of external affairs at Villiers Park Educational Trust and former FE editor at Tes.

Find me on Twitter @stephenexley

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