Ofsted deemed ‘not fit for purpose’, survey says

Ofsted needs major reform and is deemed ‘not fit for purpose' according to an investigation into the education inspectorate for England.

The Beyond Ofsted investigation called for “transformational change” and said it found Ofsted was “having a damaging impact on schools that some perceive as toxic”.

The inquiry, chaired by former schools minister Lord Jim Knight and sponsored by the National Education Union (NEU), recommends that the school inspection system be overhauled.

Lord Knight said: “The evidence is clear. Ofsted has lost the confidence of the teaching profession and increasingly parents.

“Our recommendations are designed to restore trust and address the intensifying workload of leaders and teachers, while reforming a system that is ineffective in its role in school improvement.”

The research recommends that schools could ‘self-assess their progress' and work with an external School Improvement partner who would work with the school over the long term.

They will validate and support the school to deliver an action plan and parents will be provided with easy-to-read and useful information instead of one-word judgement.

Lord Knight added: “This will produce an action plan for governance and the school community to understand what is working well and what can be done better.”

The Beyond Ofsted inquiry was launched in April amid calls for the inspectorate to revamp its school assessment system – which uses one-word judgments – following the death of headteacher Ruth Perry in January.

Ms Perry's family said she took her own life after an Ofsted report downgraded Caversham Primary School in Reading from the highest rating to the lowest due to safeguarding concerns.

The inquiry recommends an “immediate pause in routine inspections” to allow time for the teaching profession to regain confidence, but Ofsted inspections will continue to provide feedback to the Department for Education on the impact of government policies.

A spokesman for the Department for Education told the BBC they want “inspections to be a constructive experience for school staff”.

“Our inspectors are all former or current head teachers and have a good understanding of the nature and pressures of the job.

“Ofsted has a critical role in providing a regular, independent assessment of every school, providing reassurance to parents that pupils are getting the high-quality education they deserve and are being kept safe.”

It comes as the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) said “overly simplistic” school inspection judgments, such as inadequate or in need of improvement, often prompt abrupt changes in management.

The think tank said this fueled a “culture of football managers” in schools.