Legislation proposing new powers for schools to challenge Ofsted inspection results has passed its first stage in parliament after gaining cross-party support.
The Liberal Democrat education spokesperson John Pugh’s Ofsted inspections (schools’ rights of challenge) bill passed its first reading in the House of Commons this week, and will have its second reading on March 11.
The bill would require inspectors to agree both the outcome and recommendations from their visits with schools or offer them a right to respond in the text of the reports themselves.
The Southport MP introduced his bill, which has the support of former shadow education minister Steve McCabe and Conservative MP Fiona Bruce, on Tuesday, and saw it pass without opposition.
Mr Pugh told MPs that although he recognised inspection had a “valuable role in education”, the way it was currently done, via a “bloated bureaucratic beast”, was “clumsy, poor value for money and unaccountable”.
He added: “Critically, there is no independent appeal on matters of substance. The bill seeks to give schools powers to contest an unfair judgment by appeal to independent regional panels.”
Mr Pugh warned that good teachers and heads who feared “an errant verdict” were left “diverted or stressed” by inspections. He added: “We do not have a collegial, peer-reviewed model of school improvement.
“Instead, we have what can become, at worst, the teaching equivalent of the Spanish inquisition, where careers go up in flames at the mere whiff of educational heresy.”