Laura McInerney misses the point in her defence of Ofsted (How doubling the number of Ofsted inspections could make headteachers happier, Education, 18 February). The inspectorate has lasted a long time – but Matthew Arnold would be unable to recognise Her Majesty’s Inspectorate in its current form.
Ofsted casts a dark shadow over schools. It is an important part of a toxic accountability system which drives teachers from the profession – nearly a third now leave within three years, citing excessive workload caused by accountability as their main reason for their departure. This exodus of teachers harms the children who need them most – poor children in deprived areas whose schools are negatively, and unfairly, judged by Ofsted.
No one is arguing that schools should not be inspected – simply that inspection serves as a force for raising standards. As Ofsted has recently admitted, it has not been a force for improvement in schools that it calls “stuck”. The #PauseOfsted campaign asks that current school leaders stop working for Ofsted until a new, fair and reliable system of inspection is put in place – one that has the confidence of teachers and is able to give parents accurate and reliable information about the standards of education in their child’s school. Ofsted does not fulfil either of these essential functions at present.
Dr Mary Bousted
Joint general secretary, National Education Union
• School inspections may be older than the zip, toilet paper or tea bags, as Laura McInerney claims, but their character has changed considerably. When I began teaching in 1959, they were largely helpful and supportive of teachers, who were assumed to be doing their best in what was an often difficult but usually enjoyable and rewarding job. Today, trust in the professional integrity of teachers has gone out of the window and they spend more time on paperwork to prove to “managers” and Ofsted that they’ve done what they’re supposed to do, than they spend actually doing it.
The way to restore the enjoyment and creativity to teaching, and thus improve the educational outcome, is not to double the number of Ofsted inspections but to abolish Ofsted. Its tick-box minded inspectors should be made redundant without financial compensation, but with guaranteed posts in their nearest inner-city school. They should not be allowed to apply for posts in a recreated Local Authority Advisory Service from which well-meaning advisers could, as of old, make occasional visits to schools to give support and introduce the occasional good idea.
Birstall, West Yorkshire
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