'Help us tackle inspection culture of fear' - Ofsted chief's plea to heads

The schools community has a “collective responsibility” to tackle the “culture of fear” surrounding inspections, the chief inspector has said, as she attacked headteachers who “manufacture tension” between Ofsted and schools.

Amanda Spielman told a teaching conference in Birmingham this morning that the anxiety felt by teachers and school leaders about Ofsted was an “enormous challenge”, and called for a joint effort to bust myths about the inspection system.

Ofsted has for many years sought to challenge negative assumptions about its approach to inspecting schools. Many teachers believe the inspectorate is too data-focused, with judgments only based on a snapshot of a school’s work, and school leaders have reported rising stress and anxiety caused by inspections.

Speaking at the Ark Schools Teach 2017 conference today, Spielman admitted a “culture of fear” had “built up over the years”, with much of it based on “perception rather than reality”.

She said there was a “wide responsibility across the system” to “take down” the anxiety and fear about Ofsted inspections, and blamed headteacher bloggers

“I read a lot of blogs as well as newspapers, and there are actually quite a few heads in the system who write blogs that spin up levels of anxiety, so it’s not just the various parts of government, central and local government, there’s also a responsibility in the whole education system to not manufacture tension that shouldn’t be there.”