Watch: Union leader calls for Ofsted abolition within a year

NEU's Kevin Courtney reveals opposition to inspection overhaul and his hopes for improvement on workload

Martin George

£186m spent on closed free schools, says NEU

The co-leader of England's biggest education union has come out against plans to overhaul the school inspection regime.

Ofsted chief inspector Amanda Spielman is currently drawing up a new inspection framework to discourage “exam factory” schools, and focus on the curriculum that they offer.

However, Kevin Courtney, joint-general secretary of the NEU, told Tes that he does not support “another Ofsted policing solution” to concerns about the curriculum being narrowed.

In a Tes Facebook Live interview, he suggested that the inspectorate’s plans to introduce a new inspection framework next September would “just create extra workload in schools” (see 9.50 minutes into the video).

He said: “When Amanda Spielman says that she wants schools to teach a broad curriculum, I want schools to teach a broad curriculum, but Ofsted is one of the things that has stopped schools teaching a broad curriculum.

“I’m afraid what Amanda does not understand is the need for her to speak truth to power.

"It is the government’s EBacc system, it is the cuts, which are leading to arts subjects being cut in schools – that’s what’s driving the narrowing of the curriculum.

“So I don’t support another Ofsted policing solution to that.

'The problem isn't in schools'

"The problem isn’t in the schools. The problem is in DfE headquarters, and that’s where Amanda Spielman needs to concentrate.”

Asked whether he was against the new framework being introduced, he said: “I want Ofsted to go, and I want them to go by next September, and I don’t support their changes which just create extra workload in schools.”

The interview followed a NEU fringe meeting at the Liberal Democrats' conference in Brighton, where teacher workload was raised.

This summer, Mr Courtney featured in a DfE video to promote resources designed at reducing workload (see 7.20 minutes into the Facebook video).

Asked whether the situation was improving, he said: “I think we are in the place where it could start to improve, and we will work with anyone to reduce teacher workload.

"It is the biggest problem facing our members and everyone knows that.”

In the interview, Mr Courtney also discussed the possibility of industrial action over teacher pay (see 3.30 minutes into the video), and controversy over the NEU’s stance on transgender issues (see 12.30 minutes into the video).

Register to continue reading for free

It only takes a moment and you'll get access to more news, plus courses, jobs and teaching resources tailored to you

Martin George

Martin George

Martin George is a reporter at Tes

Find me on Twitter @geomr

Latest stories

Covid catch-up: Why talk of a crisis in education is too simple

Why calling everything a 'crisis' is damaging

The tendency to label any issue a crisis means we overlook opportunities for innovation, say three teacher-researchers
Mark Harrison, Stephen Chatelier, and Elke Van dermijnsbrugge 13 Jun 2021