In her inaugural address as incoming president of the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT), Bernadette Hunter, pictured below, called for a system of inspection that “doesn’t keep moving the bar”.
Speaking at the NAHT annual conference on Saturday (May 18), Ms Hunter said: “We are public servants and we understand that we should be judged on how our schools have served their children and young people. But let’s be treated fairly.
“We need a stable inspection system that doesn’t keep moving the bar every few months, that doesn’t use adversarial and punitive language in its reports, that doesn’t strike fear and dread into every conversation where it is mentioned.”
Ms Hunter said that Ofsted is no longer “fit-for-purpose” in that it costs too much and does not improve the quality of education.
She continued: “How have we come to a situation where we have allowed a system that is based on fear and intimidation into places of learning?
“The current inspection system is paralysing schools and preventing genuine improvement and it has become a political tool with the outcomes linked to the threat of academisation.
“(Ofsted) is leading to many good heads taking early retirement and many young teachers reluctant to work in more challenging schools, let alone taken leadership in those establishments.”
The speech came as the NAHT unveiled its own peer-led “alternative inspection” system.
Dubbed “Instead”, the pilot will launch this autumn and will see headteachers inspecting each other’s schools to share best practice. NAHT general secretary Russell Hobby said: “Schools dance to Ofsted’s tune but don’t really learn from the experience – they are too busy defending themselves against it and then recovering.
“Through Instead, heads and senior management will be offered a chance to take ownership of standards by inviting staff from other schools to challenge their judgements and plans.”