ASCL calls for consultation on single-phrase judgements following Ofsted complaints reform

The Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) has today published a response to the proposed changes to Ofsted’s post-inspection arrangements and complaints handling.
The proposals, which ASCL strongly welcomes, include new routes to challenge inspection outcomes and the opportunity for providers to contact Ofsted the day after an inspection if they have unresolved concerns. ASCL believes that this is a step in the right direction, but there is much more work that needs to be done to create a fairer inspection system that has the trust of the whole profession.
Tom Middlehurst, Inspection Specialist at the Association of School and College Leaders, said: “The current complaints system is extremely convoluted, and school and college leaders tell us that they find it very difficult to successfully challenge an inspection outcome. These proposals will go some way towards supporting leaders during and after an inspection. As they will take time to be confirmed and implemented, we would urge Ofsted to follow the spirit of the proposals in the meantime.
“These changes are very welcome but represent only modest improvements to an inspection system that all too often produces judgements which are unreliable and unfair. The single biggest positive change that could be made is the removal of the overall effectiveness grading, which is often the largest point of contention in any complaint. These judgements can be reductionist, misleading and damaging to the mental health and wellbeing of staff. Switching to narrative judgements, which identify a school or college’s strengths and weaknesses, would build much-needed resilience into the inspection system and be far more informative for parents and other stakeholders. Ofsted and the Department for Education must consult on this change as soon as possible.”

ASCL’s full consultation response is available here.