I stand firm in my beliefs about Ofsted inspections

24th February 2012 at 00:00

I am delighted that my announcements about proposed changes to Ofsted inspections are generating considerable interest from both your readers and commentators (TES, 17 February). There is an important debate to be held about the future of education in England.

I recognise the concern in Joe Nutt's assessment of the very real challenges teachers can face ("Teachers cannot mend the crippled limbs of society. Sorry, Ofsted"), but I have an unshakeable faith in the power of high-quality teaching and cannot accept the conclusion that, in the end, there is nothing schools can do in the face of this.

Hundreds of schools in disadvantaged areas have shown that they can be outstanding, and hundreds more are good. This excellent practice can and should be emulated. An increasing number of good schools are helping weaker ones to improve. And yes, to reassure Professor Boyle, of course I appreciate that schools are different and that pupils are different, too. I do not advocate a one-size-fits-all approach, quite the opposite, but I do advocate a no-excuses approach and that means we do not give up on any pupil.

I am firm in my belief that an outstanding school should have outstanding teaching. Strong leadership of teaching and learning should be at the heart of the school's culture. The progress of pupils depends on it. That will not necessarily involve a return to routine inspection for schools previously judged outstanding, but it will mean that, where standards slip, more schools may be selected for inspection on the basis of risk assessment.

And, for the record, I have spent my entire teaching career in the state sector and will always be a firm supporter of what it can deliver.

Sir Michael Wilshaw, Her Majesty's Chief Inspector.

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