MPs will investigate the impact Ofsted has on school standards and the “workload and wellbeing” of their leaders and staff amid a “notable groundswell of criticism” of the watchdog.
The Parliamentary education committee has today launched an inquiry into the way schools are inspected.
It will look at the current inspection framework, which was introduced in 2019, and “examine whether this has had an impact on school standards and the workload and wellbeing of teachers and school leaders”.
It comes amid fierce criticism of Ofsted following the death of headteacher Ruth Perry.
Perry’s family say she took her own life in January before the publication of an inspection report that downgraded Caversham Primary School from ‘outstanding’ to ‘inadequate’. They blame pressure from the Ofsted process for her death.
Robin Walker, the former schools minister who now chairs the education committee, said “ensuring that inspections are proportionate, timely and reasonable is essential to build trust, especially after the tragic passing” of Perry.
MPs will examine concerns “that the ratings and feedback Ofsted gives to schools may not be conducive to helping schools improve”. The inquiry will also examine complaints procedures available to schools.
It comes after the watchdog announced a raft of changes to inspection, including a consultation on a planned shake-up of its complaints process.
Other measures announced following the backlash over Perry’s death include greater clarity on when they might be inspected, a swifter return to schools rated ‘inadequate’ over safeguarding alone, and changes in language to “de-personalise” reports.
‘Opportunity to step back’
Walker said Ofsted played a “crucial role in inspecting schools and ensuring that the quality of education remains high, this is important for parents, children and the schools system”.
“But there have been a range of concerns raised about the way it works and the impact on teachers and leaders.”
Chief inspector Amanda Spielman is due to stand down at the end of this year. Walker said the appointment of her successor “provides a valuable opportunity to take a step back and assess how well the system is working”.
“We will want to look at what can be improved and how the system can respond to some of the concerns that have been raised about workload and pressure on leaders and teachers.”
He acknowledghed the “notable groundswell of criticism towards Ofsted”.
This “appears to have stemmed from a feeling that inspections place a high burden on school staff, and a view that one-word ratings do not always fully capture the quality of teaching and care that a school provides to children from a range of backgrounds”.
The committee is inviting written evidence, which can be submitted here.