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Ofsted urged to stop inspections in the week before Christmas

A campaign has been launched calling for Ofsted to cancel inspections in the week before Christmas.

The petition was started by parent Emily Hatch after an inspection began yesterday – three days before the end of term – at Poulner Junior School in Hampshire.

Ms Hatch said it was not a fair time to carry out an inspection, with teachers “run off their feet” overseeing “Christmas performances, parties and lots of well-earned fun activities”.

The petition on the website has already been signed by more than 175 people since it was created yesterday. 

“As parents,” the petition says, “we want Ofsted to give a true reflection of how our school is performing.

“The week before the Christmas holidays is disrupted with rehearsals for performances, parties and lots of well-earned fun activities that are somewhat out of the norm. The teachers are totally run off their feet supporting these activities and the children are exhausted. It is not a fair time to impose an inspection on the school."

Ms Hatch, who has two sons attending the school, told TES she was “surprised” that a team of inspectors had arrived so close to the end of term.

“It’s unfair to the children, who have got lots of Christmas activities planned," she said. "Yesterday was the dress rehearsal of the Christmas performance and today it is being performed in front of the parents. It’s not a normal week, so Ofsted won’t be able to see normal lessons.

“The school works really hard to put on festive events for the children. My children are really happy and enjoy going to the school.

“I really feel for the teachers: they’ve worked hard all term, they should be able to enjoy the fun side of things with the children for the last few days of term. As parents, we don’t want the children to be knuckling down this week, we would prefer the school to take a more relaxed approach. Ofsted’s rules [on conducting inspections in the last week of term] should be changed.”

An Ofsted spokesman said: "Ofsted carries out up to 7,000 school inspections each year. We do not inspect in some periods because they are close to the beginning or end of the school year. However, we do inspect in the run up to Christmas because we want to see schools operating as normally as possible."

Poulner Junior School declined to comment.

Related stories:

Teacher pop duo Disco Mister try for Christmas No 1 – December 2014

Nearly half of school leaders work on Christmas Day, survey reveals – December 2013

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