Ofsted thinks new inspections can rebuild teacher trust

But teaching union leader says new inspection framework causes the profession 'enormous' stress and has had 'a very rocky landing'

William Stewart

Rebuilding teacher trust

Ofsted believes the introduction of its new school inspections has been “successful” and could lead to an increase in the number of teachers who trust the watchdog.

The inspectorate takes this view despite an admission that inspections can lead to teachers in small schools being out of the classroom for too long.

The revelation comes in the minutes from the Ofsted board’s October meeting, published today for the first time.

They show that chief inspector Amanda Spielman updated the board with the news that the introduction of its controversial new education inspection framework (EIF) the previous month had been "successful".

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She also noted that a “teacher attitude survey had recorded a fall in the number of respondents who viewed Ofsted as a responsible and trusted arbiter”.

Then in a more optimistic note the minutes add that the “EIF [new inspections] may have a positive impact upon next year’s findings”.

But Mary Bousted, joint general secretary of the National Education Union, said: "Our thoughts are that [new inspections] had a very rocky landing.

"For Ofsted asking schools ‘how was it for you?’ is akin to asking Henry VIII ‘how good is my lovemaking?’. If you say ‘no’ you will get your head chopped off.

"People get through the inspection, and if they get a 'good' they just put it behind them, but if you delve deeper you hear lots of worrying anecdotes about what inspectors did and how they came to their judgements.

"Over 80 per cent of our members who responded to an open survey say it has increased workload. And we think teachers are much more likely to be honest with their union."

In a later section of the Ofsted board minutes there is an admission of one of the practical problems that the inspections have caused.

“Some smaller schools where teachers have responsibility over several areas of the curriculum have noted that the need for inspectors to have out of class discussions with these teachers has sometimes led to these teachers being absent from class for longer than they would like,” the minutes say.

“Inspectors will be asked to keep this in mind for future inspections to ensure teachers aren’t away from their classes for a disproportionate period of time.”

Dr Bousted said: "We’re hearing subject coordinators in primary are being taken out of class to talk to inspectors or having to change their timetable for a deep dive in geography. The impact of that on teacher learning and teacher stress is enormous."

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William Stewart

William Stewart

William Stewart is News editor at Tes

Find me on Twitter @wstewarttes

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