MPs have launched an inquiry into Ofsted school inspections

The official system for inspecting schools in England is facing a major shakeup after the death of a headteacher led to calls for reform.

Announced today, MPs launched an inquiry that will question Ofsted’s use of single-word gradings and examine the impact of school inspections on the wellbeing and workload of teachers.

The inquiry was announced following the harrowing death of Head Teacher Ruth Perry, who tragically took her own life after the stress of Ofsted become too much. The watchdog downgraded her primary school to ‘inadequate’ from ‘outstanding’.

The news of her death prompted calls for inspections to be paused, and there are also now widespread calls for Ofsted to be reformed and for single-word inspections to be axed.

Yesterday, the inspectorate announced a vast number of changes including depersonalising language in inspection reports describing areas of ‘weakness’. It also pledged to frequently return to schools that were rated as ‘inadequate’ but where safeguarding was the only area of weakness.

However, union leaders and Ruth Perry’s family members claimed the proposed changes do not go far enough.

The Commons Education Select Committee inquiry will take place while the Department for Education is in the process of choosing a new Chief Inspector to lead Ofsted from next year when Amanda Spielman’s extended term in charge finishes.

Launching the new inquiry, committee chair Robin Walker said: ‘Ofsted plays a crucial role in inspecting schools and ensuring that the quality of education remains high, this is important for parents, children and the schools system, but there has been a range of concerns raised about the way it works and the impact on teachers and leaders.’

He said the appointment of a new Chief Inspector later this year ‘provides a valuable opportunity to take a step back and assess how well the system is working’.

Image: Shutterstock


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