ASCL comment on changes to Ofsted inspections

Geoff Barton, General Secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, comments on Ofsted’s announcement of changes to inspection processes, a revised complaints procedure, and new wellbeing investment.
“These changes have been made following the death of headteacher Ruth Perry which has shone a light on an inspection system that is excessively harsh. It should not have needed such a tragedy to bring about reform. We have been warning for years of the serious damage the inspection system causes to the mental health and wellbeing of leaders and teachers. Change is long overdue.
“The changes to inspection processes and the revised complaints procedure set out by Ofsted represent a modest improvement. They have been agreed following talks over the last few weeks with ASCL and other organisations. However, they are only a step in the right direction, and the inspection system is badly in need of much more significant reform.
“In particular, the use of single-word descriptions to judge a school or college must be scrapped, and replaced with a system that is less blunt and reductive. The application of an ‘inadequate’ rating dismisses everything that a school or college does in a single stroke and takes no account of circumstances such as funding and teacher shortages. It is a trapdoor that is both demoralising and counterproductive.”