Ofsted chief ‘not ruling out’ judging schools on teacher workload

The chief inspector of schools is “loath” to commit Ofsted to judge schools on how they manage teacher workload, but has not ruled it out.

Amanda Spielman told the ASCL union conference in Birmingham this morning that although she is keen to help schools tackle workload, she is also wary of Ofsted becoming “a wedge between staff and management”.

Teacher workload and its impact on teacher recruitment and retention was the focus of speeches by Spielman, education secretary Damian Hinds and ASCL general secretary Geoff Barton this morning.

The three senior figures even appeared together on stage to show heads they were prepared to work collaboratively. Spielman said Ofsted “isn’t blameless” in the workload debate, and must remove some of the things it does which “create workload”.

At the moment, inspectors ask teachers about their workload during inspections.

However, their responses are not used to “downgrade leadership and management”, but as part of a discussion with heads about the way they run their schools, Spielman said.

“I am loath to go any further, just at the moment, to commit Ofsted to directly judging leaders’ approach to workload,” Spielman told headteachers today.

“I’m sure there is room for us to look at more under the leadership and management judgment. But adding something to the Ofsted framework rarely has a subtle impact.”

Unless Ofsted “picks through our approach carefully, perverse incentives will follow”, said Spielman, who said the “very last thing” she wanted was for Ofsted to “become a wedge between staff and management”.

“So I’m not ruling out taking a closer look at workload at inspection, but I want to do this gradually, and in discussion with the sector.”

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