Ofsted halted: what parents must know
Ofsted taking a breather
You might have heard that Ofsted, the school watchdog in England, is hitting pause on some inspections in response to the enquiry around the tragic death of headteacher, Ruth Perry.
This doesn't mean schools are off the hook. There will still be checks for serious concerns, but the regular cycle of inspections is taking a short break.
People within the education community have different opinions on it. Some say it's a chance to rethink how inspections work, while others worry it might weaken school accountability.
Sensitivity Training: What's the scoop?
Another hot topic is the new sensitivity training for inspectors. This has some folks riled up, but what's it all about? Basically, it's about making sure inspectors are aware of unconscious bias and can assess schools fairly, regardless of things like background or identity. It also aims to reduce stress felt by school leaders when inspection takes place and hopefully remove the risk of another tragedy happening.
Some school leaders feel that this is not enough. One headteacher at a recent Ofsted briefing simply called out “We are all open to inspection but there has to be a better way than this!”
Changes to reporting: Axing the single word
Word on the school street is that Ofsted is considering changing how they report on schools: ditching single-word judgements like ‘outstanding’ or ‘requires improvement’. Instead, they might use a more detailed system that highlights both strengths and areas for growth.
This gives parents a more nuanced picture of a school, but it also means you'll need to do your own research to understand what the report really means.
What does this mean for you?
As a parent, choosing a school is a big decision. With Ofsted changing, it might feel like you're flying blind. But don't worry! Here are some tips:
- Look beyond the report: Talk to parents, visit schools, see how they feel. Remember, a single report doesn't tell the whole story.
- Focus on what matters to you: Whether it's great academics, a caring environment, or a specific program, find a school that matches your priorities.
- Ask questions: Don't be afraid to reach out to schools and ask about anything you're unsure about.
What’s next for schools and Ofsted?
This is just the beginning of the conversation.
Ofsted's changes are sparking debates, and there's no one-size-fits-all answer. But by staying informed, asking questions and working together, we can navigate these changes and create the best possible learning environment for your children.
Matt Revill is a primary school headteacher with over 20 years experience of working in schools. He has worked in a range of settings and currently works within a multi-academy trust of 14 schools. In his free time, he enjoys reading, computing, holidaying and spending time with his family and friends. Matt has a son who is currently working his way through A-levels at college.