Ex-Ofsted chief: failure to plan for reopening of schools is ‘astonishing’ | Education

The government’s failure to plan to get children back to school safely is “absolutely astonishing” and must be remedied before September, Sir Michael Wilshaw, the former chief inspector of schools in England, has said. Wilshaw, who led Ofsted from 2012 until 2016, said schools will need to put in place recovery programmes, appeal to teachers to run catch-up classes over the summer and even allow some of the most affected to repeat their school year. The government has been criticised…

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‘The human stuff matters’: heads call for a kinder school system post Covid-19 | Education

Schools closed, exams cancelled, a halt to Ofsted inspections and performance tables. Even the weirdest misfit futurologist employed by the prime minister’s adviser, Dominic Cummings, couldn’t have envisaged that, 10 years on from the start of the coalition government, the UK would be locked down with a partially functioning school system. Normal politics seems a distant memory. It could be 100 years, rather than 10, since Michael Gove, now a minister at the heart of the Covid-19 battle, was trumpeting…

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Schools shutdown likely to widen attainment gap, says Ofsted chief | Education

The chief inspector of schools in England has said the attainment gap between deprived pupils and their wealthier peers will widen as a result of school closures and it is in children’s interests to get back to school as quickly as possible. Amanda Spielman, who heads the schools inspectorate Ofsted, said the Covid-19 pandemic would further disadvantage the poorest, lowest-achieving and least motivated children. “Whether we like it or not, it is going to widen gaps, especially in the short…

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Schools in England warned over ‘blind spot’ as vulnerable children stay home | Education

Schools are facing demands to step up their efforts to reach vulnerable pupils, following warnings that more children are being put at risk during the coronavirus lockdown. With the number of vulnerable children turning up to schools far below official expectations, council officials are sounding the alarm that the number of those needing help from schools and social services is growing. The lockdown makes tracking new and worsening cases extremely hard. There are concerns that schools’ success in keeping an…

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Thousands of pupils set to miss out on first-choice primary school | Primary schools

Thousands of parents in England are expected to miss out on their first choice of primary school on Tuesday when local authorities notify families where their child will start their education in September. About half a million families will be contacted on national offer day, mainly by email. Although pressure on places in primary schools has eased slightly in some areas of the country, headteachers have warned an increasingly fragmented school system has led to a lack of coordinated planning…

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Does the new inspection framework trade off reliability against validity? – David Didau – Education Article

Yesterday I saw a thread on Twitter from headteacher Stuart Lock on the pros and cons of the new inspection framework: I realised in reading the discussion on twitter today what my problems are with the new @Ofstednews framework but why I think those issues were inevitable – and why it’s still the right bet. — Stuart Lock (@StuartLock) January 12, 2020 In it he discusses the idea that because the previous inspection framework relied heavily on schools’  results in…

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a recommendation for improving Ofsted inspections – David Didau – Education Article

Mistakes in aviation are potentially catastrophic; when we get things wrong in teaching, no one dies. But the same pressures that cause pilots to make mistakes are at work to prevent teachers and school leaders acting in the best interest of their students, and maybe causing inspection teams to making avoidable mistakes in judging schools. I recently spent some time listening to some concerns about the inspection of Bilton School. According to Ofsted, the school is inadequate because there are…

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Ofsted casts a dark shadow over schools | Letters | Education

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…

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Downing tools in protest is not the way to solve headteachers’ Ofsted problems | Laura McInerney | Education

School inspections in England began in 1839 – they are older than the zip, toilet paper, or tea bags. But for the first time in the inspectorate’s history it is facing a major and potentially destabilising problem: school leaders are politely withdrawing their labour. A few years ago, Ofsted decided that instead of grading schools using inspectors who had never worked in one, it should recruit more school leaders; they would be employed part-time for the inspectorate, and as senior…

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Ofsted chief: funding cuts forcing schools to narrow curriculum | Education

Schools are cutting back the curriculum and not replacing teachers when they leave because of a growing funding crisis, the chief inspector of schools has said. In an unprecedented step, Ofsted’s Amanda Spielman laid out the impact of cuts in a blogpost that has since been removed because it was published “erroneously”. It will be published again in the coming weeks, along with a more detailed study on school funding. Spielman has previously been criticised after she said it would…

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An Ofsted inspection should not be like entering the dragons’ den | Letters | Education

What a disturbing account of disgraceful Ofsted inspections in your report (Outstanding primaries fail their Ofsted under new rules, 4 February). The Office for Standards in Education could have been valuable if it had treated teachers respectfully as fellow professionals to be inspected cordially, challenged where necessary, and guided and supported when appropriate. But instead, throughout its 28 years of existence, it has engendered fear in those inspected, and, where it found fault, conveyed its criticisms to public and parents…

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Outstanding primary schools fail Ofsted inspections under sudden rule switch | Education

The eight-year-old boy was meeting the Ofsted inspector for the first time. “What do you remember learning in history?” she asked, tapping on her iPad. It was months since his year did the subject but he thought of something: “The Vikings.” And what did he learn about the Vikings? “They invented dragons,” he replied. Under the inspectorate’s new framework, introduced last September, anecdotal evidence of what children say appears to be taking centre stage. The child’s reply about Viking imagery…

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Ofsted uncovers 500 suspected illegal schools in England | Education

More than 500 suspected illegal schools, educating thousands of pupils, have been identified in England over the past three years by the schools watchdog Ofsted, according to data published for the first time. Some of the schools were in an appalling condition with rat traps, exposed wires and open sewers, Ofsted inspectors said. In one, pupils were left to play computer games all day, while in another inspectors found children in every classroom repeating religious texts with no other apparent…

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Ofsted staff to wear body cameras to visit suspected illegal schools | Education

Ofsted inspectors raiding suspected illegal schools in England are to be given body-worn cameras for the first time to improve efforts to shut them down, the watchdog has announced. Staff belonging to Ofsted’s illegal schools taskforce will wear digital video recorders similar to those used by police officers. The taskforce was set up to investigate groups operating without registering as a school, which may not be following safeguarding or child protection regulations, and lack oversight of teaching and facilities. Ofsted…

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Birmingham Islamic school sues Ofsted after being failed for leaflet | Education

An Islamic school in Birmingham has mounted a legal challenge against Ofsted after it was failed by the educational watchdog over a 25-year-old “inflammatory” leaflet. Birchfield independent girls’ school in Aston was rated as “inadequate” by Ofsted after inspectors found a leaflet about a 1994 Islamic conference in the library. The school was predicted to get a “good” judgment until the discovery during the second day of the inspection, the Birmingham Mail. Inspectors said: “The leaflet states: ‘Today we find…

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Ofsted boss hits out at schools for continuing to ‘game’ league tables | Education

The head of Ofsted has issued a sharp rebuke to schools in England that continue to “off-roll” vulnerable pupils and force others to take “sham qualifications” in order to maximise results and improve league table positions. The schools watchdog introduced a new inspection framework last year aimed at encouraging schools to move away from a purely results-driven culture and focus instead on a broad, rich curriculum. However, according to the chief inspector of schools, Amanda Spielman, a minority of schools…

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