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General election: Conservative plan for no-notice school inspections criticised by teaching unions | Politics News



Two teaching unions have criticised the Conservatives’ plans to put more money into Ofsted and introduce inspections without notice in schools.

Boris Johnson’s party will announce their plans for the schools inspectorate on Friday, amid calls from other parties including the Lib Dems to scrap the body.

They will promise to increase the length of inspections in schools to allow more focus on extracurricular activities, and to trial no-notice inspections to reflect the true experience.

They also commit to £10m additional funding, and a change to the rules to stop schools being exempt from routine inspections when they are ranked as outstanding.

But Paul White general secretary of NAHT (National Association of Head Teachers) said the announcement was an acknowledgement that current inspections “do not provide a fair and reliable judgement on school performance”.

He said: “The answer is not to do more of the same, in fact it is the precise opposite. Ofsted needs to focus its efforts on the small fraction of schools that are struggling to provide a good standard of education and offer a stronger diagnostic insight on what is going wrong, to help them improve more rapidly.

“Inspection is already near no-notice, with the first inspection interviews taking place within a few hours of notification of inspection.

“No-notice inspections will do more harm than good – they will result in more wasted time for inspectors, whilst arrangements are frantically put in place to meet their needs; they will be more disruptive and stressful to teachers and pupils; and will give zero additional insight in return.”

Dr Mary Bousted, the joint general secretary of the NEU (National Education Union) said: “The Lib Dems are right Ofsted is fundamentally broken. It is past its sell by date and does not give a true reflection of the work that goes on in schools.

“We need a new quality assurance system for our schools that parents can rely on. Teachers, parents, the Lib Dems, Labour and the Green Party can all see that Ofsted is no longer fit for purpose.”

The Liberal Democrats, Labour and the Green Party have all vowed to scrap the education inspectorate, with Labour replacing it with a new body, and the Lib Dems using broader indicators.

Britain's Education Secretary Gavin Williamson arrives in Downing street in London for the weekly cabinet meeting on October 29, 2019. - British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to make a fresh attempt today to force an early election, despite MPS rejecting his plan, after the European Union agreed to postpone Brexit for up to three months. (Photo by DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS / AFP) (Photo by DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP via Getty Images)
Gavin Williamson said more funding will help Ofsted carry out better inspections

Education secretary Gavin Williamson said: “Ofsted is an independent and trusted source of information for parents and teachers and their inspections help to raise standards in our schools.

“But Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour want to scrap Ofsted, meaning parents won’t have reliable information about the performance of their child’s school. Without independent inspections school standards would fall and our children would be less safe.

Unions also took issue with the Conservatives’ claim that there are 1.9m more children being taught in good or outstanding schools compared to 2010, with NAHT accepting it is true, but due to a rise in pupil numbers rather than additional places or better schools.

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Angela Rayner, Labour’s shadow secretary of state for education, said: “The Conservatives have failed teachers, parents and pupils over the last nine years, creating a system that measures the poverty they’ve inflicted, not performance.

“Ofsted is not fit for purpose. It has created a culture of fear among teachers, driven thousands from the profession, and fails to give parents meaningful information about their children’s school.”

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