ASCL comment on Education Select Committee’s call for major changes to school inspections

Tom Middlehurst, Inspection Specialist at the Association of School and College Leaders, responds to a report from the Education Select Committee, which states that major changes must be made to inspections in order for Ofsted to rebuild trust
“The Education Select Committee has identified what the education profession already understands only too well, that inspections can have devastating consequences for school and college leaders.
“We are pleased that the Committee has added their voice to the calls from ASCL and many others for an alternative to single-phrase judgements, which must now be consigned to history once a new system can be agreed upon and effectively implemented. It’s becoming increasingly clear that a more nuanced system can better inform schools and parents, while removing unnecessary pressure on staff. As part of this, it’s important that inspectors fully take into account a school’s circumstances and the unique challenges they face. It is encouraging that the Committee has recognised the need for contextual factors, such as the level of disadvantage in the community, to be taken into account during inspection and reflected in reports. Ensuring that lead inspectors have expertise in the phase of the setting being inspected should also help aid understanding of a school’s individual context.
“The work already carried out by the new HMCI has given grounds for cautious optimism, but this report underlines the scale of the challenge in front of him. There is a great deal that needs to change in order for Ofsted to win back the trust of the profession.”