Replace Ofsted banners with pupil quotes, says heads' union

ASCL urges schools to replace banners with 'something more inspiring than an accountability measure'

Will Hazell

School inspections: Why it's time to abolish the Ofsted 'outstanding' grade

Schools should take down banners advertising their Ofsted ratings and consider replacing them with "inspiring" quotes from parents and students, the Association of School and College Leaders has suggested. 

The union has published new advice to schools on Ofsted inspections, entitled "101 ideas to help you manage inspection".

Number 91 on the list reads: “Reconsider your banner: while you may be proud of your inspection result, remember Ofsted is not the only mark of success. Perhaps the views of your pupils and parents would be a refreshing and welcome alternative!”

'More to a school'

Stephen Rollett, ASCL's inspections specialist, said: "Inspections are obviously important but they don't tell the full story.

"There is so much more to a school than whether a team of inspectors think it is ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’.

“Schools open up a world of learning – sports, music, arts, science, history, languages and literature. A generic Ofsted rating cannot do justice to their distinctive character. Let’s replace those banners with something more inspiring than an accountability measure.

“We could instead put up quotes from parents and pupils about the things they love about our schools, the things which really make schools tick.”

Ofsted warning

ASCL is not the first organisation to warn schools against obsessing about Ofsted ratings – in November the Ofsted chief inspector herself, Amanda Spielman, suggested that some school leaders focus too much on the watchdog's ratings.

“Getting or keeping an outstanding judgment should never be a school’s main aim,” she said. “If our horizons narrow down to just an Ofsted grade then something is seriously wrong.”

Ms Spielman recounted a past conversation she'd had with a chair of governors who had been interviewing candidates to be principal of his academy.

“He came away utterly depressed from the day," she remembered, "because he had interviewed six people, some of them with considerable strengths, but they had all made the focus of their presentation...‘How I will get this school an "outstanding" grade’.

“Not a good thing…to make that the limit of your aspiration,” she added.

Last October, Stephen Petty, head of humanities at Lord Williams’s School in Thame, Oxfordshire, criticised the "shameless parading of Ofsted feedback" in a piece written for Tes.

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Will Hazell

Will Hazell

Will Hazell is a reporter at Tes

Find me on Twitter @whazell

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