Ofsted Regime Must Be Totally Overhauled

Written on 23/03/23

The tragic death of Headteacher, Ruth Perry, in Caversham following the aftermath of an Ofsted inspection has clearly rocked the entire teaching world, and perhaps nowhere more so than just over the constituency boundary in Berkshire.

The True & Fair Party support the NAHT, the ASCL, (unions representing our headteachers), and other teaching unions including the NEU in their pleas for an immediate pause to all Ofsted inspections.

Time needs to be taken to reflect on how a recent inspection by the body has ultimately led to a dedicated teacher feeling she had no alternative other than to take her own life. This situation should never have been allowed to happen.
Why Ofsted themselves have not yet seen fit to pause inspections, particularly in the immediate area, is a matter they will need to clarify.

It seemed a pretty ordinary Monday at work in school yesterday (a few miles over the East Wiltshire/Devizes constituency boundary), then news came trickling through that one of the local feeder primaries in Newbury had received the near universally dreaded phone call.

School staff across the country know what this usually entails - stress levels generally ratchet up a fair few notches, hard working teachers start to micro-analyse pretty much every minutiae of their daily professional lives.

Sleep is often lost with questions buzzing around minds at all hours:

Are we good enough to satisfy the current whims of Ofsted?

Will the inspectors get a true picture in the few hours they are present?

Will the students be on their best behaviour?

Ultimately, will we be deemed good enough? If not, what then?

But this time, something different has happened.

Having taken the call, the brave Headteacher publicly stated she planned to refuse permission for the Ofsted team to enter. Calls were quickly made in the area for people to offer support to the Head in her stand. This is now making not only local, but regional and national headlines.

As an assistant teacher nearby, and a prospective parliamentary candidate for the neighbouring constituency, I contacted the Head of the school to offer her my full moral support. Hers is a stand that I feel needs to be taken.

At Vote True&Fair we believe Ofsted and the terms under which it operates need to be radically overhauled, the current system of gradings it uses need to go.

We need credible portraits of institutions and we need a system of inspection that treats everyone fairly. Teachers, Heads, pupils and parents, the whole school community deserve a healthy dose of understanding and compassion. A culture of inspections that has driven anyone to taking their own life is not one that we should be happy to tolerate. Ofsted should not continue unchanged.

Pete Force-Jones

Assistant Teacher and PPC for the True & Fair Party in Devizes/East Wilshire