Ofsted 'should not police its own complaints'

Heads call for new panel to oversee complaints where schools think that Ofsted judgements are 'irrational or unfair'

John Roberts

A new independent panel should be set up to allow schools to appeal against Ofsted judgements, say headteachers

Headteachers have warned that Ofsted should not be allowed to police complaints about its own inspections and are calling for a new independent review panel to be created.

A motion tabled at the NAHT headteachers' union's annual conference will call for schools to be given a statutory right of appeal to this panel if it thinks an Ofsted report is “irrational or unfair”.

It also suggests that heads should be able to complain that the conduct of an inspection has had an impact on Ofsted's overall judgement.

Quick read: Fall in number of Ofsted complaints

Analysis: 'Better complaints procedure needed'

Background: New hotline for heads to report Ofsted to 

The motion says: “While the NAHT recognises the need for a certain level of accountability in schools, it is not right that Ofsted polices its own complaints.

Complaints about Ofsted

“This conference calls on national executive to campaign for the establishment of an independent review panel to give schools the opportunity of a statutory right to appeal against an Ofsted judgement where they believe the outcome is irrational or unfair. 

“The right of appeal should also extend to cover the conduct of the inspection where the school believes this has had a detrimental impact on the overall judgement."

Ofsted’s annual report last year showed that an increasing proportion of complaints about the inspectorate were being upheld.

It revealed that 253 complaints or concerns were upheld or partially upheld at the second stage of Ofsted’s complaints procedure.

This represented 20 per cent of complaints considered at this stage, compared with 17 per cent in 2016-17.

And just under a third (32 per cent) of the 175 complaints that reached the third stage of the process were fully or partially upheld in 2017-18, compared with 26 per cent in the previous year.

Plans were announced earlier this year to create a new hotline for headteachers to report inspectors who they feel have "unnecessarily added" to their school’s workload.

The new service will allow schools to flag up if and when the inspectorate fails to meet its commitments to ensure that it does not contribute to increased workload.

The plans were revealed in the government’s new Teacher Recruitment and Retention Strategy, published in January.

The NAHT motion calling for a new independent review panel to assess complaints about Ofsted is one of several focused on the inspectorate which are set to be debated by headteachers at the NAHT's annual conference in Telford, which starts today.

One motion calls on the union’s national executive to challenge Ofsted's use of “external test data” to inform a judgement on quality of education.

A separate motion also questions Ofsted’s inclusion of the EBacc targets in its plans for a new inspection framework.

The Department for Education wants 75 per cent of pupils to be sitting the GCSEs needed to achieve the EBacc in three years' time

Ofsted’s draft inspection handbook, released in January, says inspectors should look at how schools are planning to meet this EBacc target when judging their curriculum under new inspections.

The inspectorate's new framework is set to place a greater emphasis on curriculum as part of a new quality of education inspection grade, which will replace teaching and learning and pupil outcomes.

However, a motion for the NAHT conference says: “It is for school leaders to decide on the appropriate curriculum for pupils in their schools and it is not right that Ofsted is championing the EBacc as the heart of a good secondary curriculum.”

Ofsted has been approached for a comment.

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John Roberts

John Roberts

John Roberts is North of England reporter for Tes

Find me on Twitter @JohnGRoberts

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