Fight or flight? How ‘stuck’ schools are overcoming isolation

The Assistant District Secretary of the National Education Union comments on the latest report by Ofsted and shares his views on how Ofsted impacts the health of schools

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Commenting on “Fight or Flight? How ‘stuck’ schools are overcoming isolation” (see below), a report published this week by Ofsted, Peter Shreeve, Assistant District Secretary of the National Education Union writes. Ed


In this report Ofsted investigates:

  • why some schools are ‘stuck’, i.e. schools that have suffered at least four full inspections and failed to achieve a rating of either good or better since September 2006. Nationally, 415 schools serving 210,000 pupils are in this position.
  • why some have delivered a low standard of education for long periods and yet have managed to improve.

We can recognise aspects of Ofsted’s findings in our own local education system, namely geographical isolation, staff recruitment and retention issues, threats of school closure and Academy conversions, constant change of curriculum, policies and leaders.

Surely Ofsted is making problem worse
The report states, schools have their funding destabilised when schools were put into special measures, but rose when they reached requires improvement.

Surely then, Ofsted is making the problem worse. If there are school challenges, then we must give tailored and targeted advice relevant to individual circumstances. Indeed, Ofsted Chief Inspector Amanda Spielman is unsupportive of the constant “carousel of consultants”, who fail to achieve this.

Deprived schools suffer
Furthermore, recent Education Policy Institute research shows, schools in deprived circumstances are much more likely to find it harder to escape a poor Ofsted category than schools in leafy suburbs.

Fear of Ofsted is a key factor in school leader and teacher flight from these schools. Ofsted judgements routinely fail to recognise the work of schools in challenging areas with deprived pupil intakes.

Negative grades end teachers’ careers
Even when these schools are doing well in terms of pupil progress, Ofsted disproportionately and unfairly awards them negative grades, which can, and do, end teacher and headteacher careers.

It appears that far from being a force for educational improvement in the areas that need it most, Ofsted is, unfortunately part of the problem, not the solution.


“Fight or Flight? How ‘stuck’ schools are overcoming isolation” (download the PDF)

Image: ell-r-brown under CC BY 2.0

Friday, 10th January, 2020 2:35pm

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Filed under: Education, Isle of Wight News, Top story

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