ASCL comment on Ofsted annual report

Geoff Barton, General Secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, comments on Ofsted’s annual report.
“Amanda Spielman’s observation that the social contract between parents and schools has been fractured reflects what we are hearing from many school leaders. There has indeed been a troubling shift in pupil behaviour, attendance and attitudes towards education since the pandemic, and parents are increasingly willing to challenge school rules themselves.
“This applies to a minority of parents and pupils, but it is a significant problem, absorbing time and energy and putting school leaders and staff under enormous additional pressure and stress. We appeal to parents to understand that school rules are there for the good of the whole school community and to support their schools.
“There also needs to be a much greater focus by the government to address the wider issues which are often associated with these problems. Poor mental health, unmet special educational needs, and a lack of funding and support services are all part of this picture. It will be difficult to rebuild the social contract between parents and schools without also rebuilding the infrastructure of family support services which has been eroded over the past 13 years.
“Ofsted’s annual report also draws attention to the staff recruitment and retention issues in early years, schools and further education. Nothing we heard in the Autumn Statement yesterday encourages us to think that there is any meaningful recognition of these problems on the part of the government. Ministers must take a more strategic approach which addresses pay and systemic workload pressures.
“Finally, we would like to thank Amanda Spielman for the constructive way in which she has engaged and worked with ASCL over the past seven years as Ofsted Chief Inspector. We have not always agreed but she has always listened and responded. The inspection system needs fundamental reform to scrap punitive and counterproductive graded judgements – but that is a decision which lies with the government.”