Test of Ofsted actions is what happens on the ground

Geoff Barton, General Secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, comments on Ofsted’s response to the Prevention of Future Deaths report issued by the coroner in the inquest into the death of headteacher Ruth Perry.
“The actions taken by Ofsted do not address all the problems with the inspection system, but they are positive steps in the right direction, in particular a mechanism to pause an inspection when leaders are showing signs of distress.
“This must be the beginning of a process for Ofsted and the government to improve the way in which schools and colleges are inspected – one that makes the system fairer, less punitive and more supportive.
“Our discussions with Ofsted and its new Chief Inspector, Sir Martyn Oliver, over the past few weeks have given us grounds for cautious optimism that there is a genuine willingness to reset the relationship between the inspectorate and those it inspects. This is badly needed because that relationship has reached rock bottom, and it will take time and energy to win the confidence of a sector that feels battered and bruised by an excessively harsh inspection system.
“Most importantly, the real test of the new measures and the change of tone signalled by Sir Martyn will be what actually happens on the ground in inspections. We will be asking our members to give us feedback about how inspections are going in their settings and whether they are seeing a more supportive approach.
“We will also continue to campaign for the wider system reform that is clearly necessary to scrap the current system of one-word or two-word judgements which is such an obvious driver of stress and anxiety, and which is so counterproductive when it results in a negative rating.”