Ofsted is ‘failed project’ – union chief

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The president of the National Education Union has said that Ofsted “is and always has been a failed project” and was “absent without leave during the pandemic”.

Speaking at the NEU’s annual conference in Bournemouth on Monday, Daniel Kebede said that Ofsted was a

project that sends your workload rocketing and drives so much of the rot in education.

Kebede continued:

If what they did had any value they would prove it, but they have never published any evidence to prove that their inspections are accurate,

He added that at a time of “rocketing child poverty” the inspectorate had been given a funding boost.

Read on...

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He went on to say:

Ofsted were absent without leave during the pandemic. They were nowhere to be seen in our schools, and they were not missed

Incoming vote

The union is due to vote on a motion on Monday to establish an independent, NEU-backed commission on Ofsted to report on the reliability of its inspection judgments and to campaign for a new accountability system of “collaborative support” to replace the inspectorate.

Kebede said that the “one thing that Ofsted can accurately measure is poverty”, with schools in more affluent areas four times more likely to be awarded an “outstanding” grade than those serving disadvantaged communities.

Kebede also said that:

Nothing showed their contempt for working-class children more than when (Ofsted chief) Amanda Spielman said that you spent too much time feeding children during the pandemic rather than educating them.

Kebede said he feared that Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi’s

unnecessary new guidelines on political impartiality will deter some of our colleagues from responding to them.

Mr Zahawi says that his intention is not to limit the ‘range of political issues that schools can and do teach about,’ but in practice his guidance will have the opposite effect.

Child Q

The conference will also debate an emergency motion on Child Q, the Black 15-year-old school girl who was strip searched by police at her school.

Kebede said that what happened had not started with a strip search, but with:

zero tolerance behaviour policies, a system that disproportionately excludes black children.

He said he did not believe the police could provide a pastoral role within schools, stating that the police “degraded, abused and humiliated Child Q”.

Kebede asked:

Child Q was never in the possession of any drugs. However, I know a place where 11 in 12 toilets tested positive for cocaine. It’s a place where there is a 24-hour police presence. It’s called the Houses of Parliament. Why are you strip searching children and not strip searching MPs?

He said that during the pandemic the country had the “worst possible Government at the worst possible time”, adding in reference to the controversial “partygate” scandal, “whilst you couldn’t even catch up with colleagues in a staffroom, this Government was sipping wine and eating cheese on the patio of Downing Street”.

He added that the decision to run SATs in primary schools following the disruption of the pandemic was an “utterly brutal decision”.

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  • Show Comments
    1. Ofsted has NOT failed! It has fulfilled the aims of the Black Paper writers, Sir Keith Joseph, Margaret Thatcher and, indeed, Tony Blair. Of course, it failed the vast majority of schoolchildren in England. It was designed to control teachers by curtailing their creativity and preventing them from deploying a participative pedagogy.

      I worked in secondary schools for 39 years, all of that time, in Scotland, where we took a different path and where education is still under Council control. I am not making any claim about whether education in Scotland is ‘better’ than that in England, but simply pointing out that we are “another country; we do things differently there”.

      When I began teaching in 1970, what was going on in England’s classrooms, was not greatly different from that in Scotland’s and the curricula were pretty similar. However, over the period until in retired in 2009, there was increasing divergence. Around 2013, I was asked to advise some parents in the Borough of Lewisham (where my daughter lives) about matters relating to funding of schools. I was astounded by how much different things had become and how little influence parents had on what was going on in their children’s schools. They were, literally, ‘customers’, not citizens exercising a right and able to engage in schools via councillors and council officers. Lewisham Borough had no people who knew how education worked! Essentially, parents were being told that if they did not like what was being provided, then, as CUSTOMERS, they could go elsewhere. But, they then put their children at the mercy of the ‘admissions system’, and if the family were, for example, black, single parent, in poverty, etc – all the factors which correlate with low attainment (i.e. an attainment system wilfully skewed against such children, designed to fail them) – then gaining admission in another school could be difficult, unless they submitted to oppressive conditions.

      Although the Labour Government of 1997/2010 did a number of very good things in education – such as the huge investment in early years and the rebuilding of the school estate – it sold out millions, by the continuation of Mr Chris Woodhead’s Ofsted, target setting, the denigration of comprehensives and the expansion of the academies programme.

      Sadly, the Starmer led Labour Party will not change education in England.

    2. The English Education Secretary decides arbitrarily what teachers WILL teach, and HOW they will teach it. Ofsted is employed to enforce that., even when it is clearly failing! Of course, it can never be that the SoS for Education hasn’t a clue what he is talking about….

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