Ofsted is finally showing signs of positive change, says Deborah Lawson – but will it stay the course?

In the report Forgotten Children: Alternative provision and the scandal of ever increasing exclusions (July 2018), the Education Select Committee rightly expresses concerns about “the over-exclusion of pupils” and “hidden”, or informal, exclusions.

While such practices cannot be condoned, they are the inevitable consequence of a fragmented, “marketised” system where schools must compete for funding and dwindling pools of staff and resources, while under the intense pressures of league tables, scrutiny of their results, demands to “solve” social mobility, and the Ofsted inspections that enforce the government’s target-driven agenda.

Meanwhile, Ofsted itself is facing something of an existential crisis, trying, it seems, to steer a subtly different course under its new chief inspector Amanda Spielman while being pushed in potentially different directions by MPs, the National Audit Office (NAO) and the unions (my own included).

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