Ofsted 'too close to DfE' to run school sex abuse probe

National Education Union's joint general secretary, Mary Bousted, claims watchdog appointed so that government can 'control' review

Tes Reporter

Mary Bousted, the NEU joint general secretary has questioned whether Ofsted should be running a review into sexual abuse claims in schools.

Ofsted's role leading a review into claims of sex abuse in schools has been questioned by the leader of a major teaching union, who has said the watchdog is too close to the Department for Education (DfE).

The government announced the inquiry in March, following thousands of allegations from students, and the DfE said the watchdog will look at safeguarding policies in state and independent schools.

The review will also look at "the extent and the severity of the issue", and ensure there are appropriate systems in place to allow pupils to report their concerns.

But Mary Bousted, joint general secretary of the National Education Union, told the BBC that she had concerns about the review, which will look at state and independent schools in England.

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She told the broadcaster: “The Department for Education wants an inquiry that it can control, so it overuses Ofsted for a whole manner of inquiries because it has a close relationship with Ofsted and can control the results of that inquiry and the recommendations.”

One of the elements of the review, which will conclude this month, is whether inspections by Ofsted and the Independent Schools Inspectorate (ISI) have been “robust enough in relation to the issues raised”.

Current Ofsted chair, Dame Christine Ryan, was a former chief inspector at the ISI. Labour MP Jess Phillips said there is “an enormous conflict of interest”, adding: “It is just another example of marking your own homework.”

Ofsted said it was “considering the role of inspection and whether our work, and that of ISI, could be improved in this area”, while a DfE spokesperson told the broadcaster it was important that any allegations were dealt with.

They added: “Crucially, Ofsted will work with representatives from social care, police, victim support groups, education leaders and the Independent Schools Council to ensure a wide range of expertise inform their work.”

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