Ofsted to 'review' its impact on teacher wellbeing

Schools encouraged to sign up to the new Education Staff Wellbeing Charter after the stresses of the Covid-19 pandemic

Ruth Emery

Teacher mental health: Ofsted 'will ensure that its school inspectors consider teacher wellbeing'

Ofsted has pledged to "ensure" that inspectors will take staff wellbeing into account when evaluating schools, as part of a new charter to support teachers’ mental health.

The Education Staff Wellbeing Charter includes pledges from the Department for Education and Ofsted, as well as 11 actions that schools and colleges can sign up to on a voluntary basis.

The charter says: “Ofsted recognises that we have a dual role to play in protecting and enhancing the wellbeing of education staff.

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"First, we are committed to making sure our requirements of schools and colleges on wellbeing are clear. Second, we recognise that education staff can feel that inspections are a source of stress.”

Ofsted school inspectors 'will take teacher wellbeing into account'

As its first commitment, Ofsted says in the charter: “We will ensure that inspectors take staff wellbeing into account in coming to their judgements and monitor this through quality assurance and evaluation.”

Ofsted has also pledged to review "whether the [inspection] framework is having inadvertent impacts on staff wellbeing (for example, creating unnecessary workload) and take steps to alleviate any issues".

According to the charter, Ofsted will continue to clarify that it does not expect providers to create documentation for inspection, does not require schools and colleges to prepare for inspections, and does not grade individual lessons or people. 

Plans for the charter were announced last year in response to recommendations by the DfE's expert group on staff wellbeing.

The pandemic is widely believed to have taken its toll on school staff wellbeing, and "shocking" survey findings last month from the NASUWT teaching union revealed that 23 per cent of teachers were on medication and 12 per cent had sought counselling to help deal with work stress.

In a foreword to the charter published today, schools minister Nick Gibb wrote: "Everyone working in education has gone above and beyond the call of duty during the Covid-19 pandemic in continuing to teach a broad and balanced curriculum, and in adapting their institutions to ensure all students and staff can return safely.

"Despite the challenges, we’ve seen exemplary leadership, innovation and resilience in the profession. Whilst many of the issues this charter seeks to help address are not new, it is more important than ever that wellbeing and mental health are at the forefront of education policy.

"In launching this charter, the whole sector has come together to make a commitment to protect the wellbeing and mental health of those who work in our schools and colleges. I would like to thank all of those who work in education for all that they have done, and continue to do, to educate and support young people."

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Ruth Emery

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