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Spielman: Teachers 'reduced to data managers'

Ofsted chief inspector announcing more details of controversial new inspection framework

Amanda Spielman

Ofsted chief inspector announcing more details of controversial new inspection framework

Teachers have been reduced to "data managers" instead of "experts in their field", Ofsted chief inspector Amanda Spielman will argue today.

"I don't know a single teacher who went into teaching to get the perfect Progress 8 score (a measure of pupil progress)," she will tell a schools conference in Newcastle this morning.

"They go into it because they love what they teach and want children to love it too."

She will make her comments while outlining further details of Ofsted's controversial new school inspection framework.

The teaching and learning grade is, as Tes has already reported, to be replaced with a grade focusing on a broader "quality of education".   

The other new judgement headings will reportedly be personal development; behaviour and attitudes; and schools' leadership and management.

That compares with the existing four judgements of:

  • effectiveness of leadership and management
  • quality of teaching, learning and assessment
  • personal development, behaviour and welfare
  • outcomes for children and learners

"For a long time, our inspections have looked hardest at outcomes, placing too much weight on test and exam results when we consider the overall effectiveness of schools," Ms Spielman is expected to tell the Schools North East summit. 

"The cumulative impact of performance tables and inspections, and the consequences that are hung on them, has increased the pressure on school leaders, teachers and indirectly on pupils to deliver perfect data above all else. 

"But we know that focusing too narrowly on test and exam results can often leave little time or energy for hard thinking about the curriculum, and in fact can sometimes end up making a casualty of it. 

"The bottom line is that we must make sure that we, as an inspectorate, complement rather than intensify performance data."

Asked how inspectors would be able judge schools against the broader measure, Ms Spielman said: "We use all the different kind of information that a school has, but above all we use conversation with the people who are there."

Ofsted's new framework is due to go out for consultation in January and will be used to inspect schools from next September. 

It will place a greater emphasis on how schools deliver the curriculum and has been seen as a crackdown on “exam factory” schools that place too much emphasis on results.

But concerns about the changes have been voiced by a growing list of parties including education secretary Damian Hinds, teaching unions and a prominent academy chain.

Last week Ofsted’s director of strategy, Luke Tryl, has hit back, writing: “I’m aware that there are powerful vested interests against change."

“There are a small minority of heads who hide behind Ofsted as they impose unreasonable practices on their staff," he wrote.

“In other cases, a change in our focus will undoubtedly expose the emperor’s new clothes, those who have trumpeted stellar headline results that are built on the back of curriculum narrowing and teaching to the test.”

Teach First chief executive Russell Hobby has warned that the changes would be incompatible with having a neutral stance on teaching methods and curriculum design.

And Professor Dame Alison Peacock, chief executive of the Chartered College of Teaching, said they would leave school leaders "in fear and dread".  

The latest prominent figure to warn against the overhaul is Dame Rachel de Souza, chief executive of the Inspiration Trust academy chain, who says Ofsted is right to focus on the curriculum but fears the extra burden a new framework will bring.

A new framework feels like it will cause additional work,” she told Tes.

Tensions have also been rising between the Department for Education and Ofsted about the inspection framework. 

Education secretary Damian Hinds has repeatedly failed to back the inspectorate's plans and raised concerns that they might increase teachers' workload.

Meanwhile, the NAHT headteachers' union has urged chief inspector Amanda Spielman to "pause" the changes.

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