Written evidence submitted by a Member of the public

Experience of Ofsted

I am a primary headteacher with over 20 years experience. I am also a Kent Leader of Education and have supported schools in Special Measures, as well as undergoing numerous inspections in my own schools. My current school is rated as “good”.

The impact of Ofsted on me has been significant. We were last inspected in 2018 so from that time we were in the Ofsted “window” and still haven’t been inspected. Although there is now slightly more clarity over when Inspection might happen. I hardly sleep and I visited my doctor as I was having constant headaches and an MRI showed scarring on my brain. I was classed as at risk of a stroke. Following this and many sleepless nights and mornings of vomiting with fear that we would “get the call”, I was also diagnosed and medicated for high blood pressure. My doctor said that this was due to work related stress and urged me to apply for ill health retirement. I didn’t as my school was in the Ofsted “window and I didn’t want to abandon my team. So after two weeks off work I returned. I am currently undergoing treatment for cancer. Although I do not accuse Ofsted of causing this, the stress of an impending inspection, when every day I was waking up worrying if we would “get the call” and working 14 hour days certainly didn’t help.

I would like to offer the following as information about the impact of the inspection process. It is difficult to provide quantifiable evidence or data so much of the information is my experience first hand.


HMI visit 12th March 2012

There is only one headline judgement from this visit – The judgement is that the school has made good progress since the last inspection.

Notes from feedback meeting…Why is the judgement not outstanding? The judgement is not outstanding as some satisfactory teaching was seen – had there been perhaps one more good lesson this may have “tipped the balance”. (7 lessons were seen in a school of 315 pupils)

November 2018

Short Inspection

The team asked to speak to a child who had same sex parents to see if she felt discriminated against in any way. We only had one child in this situation and she was 4. I told the inspection team that they could not speak to her.

Having looked at the lunchboxes, the team questioned whether or not our children understood healthy eating – we were projected RI for this, despite winning an award from the potato council for growing our own veg and being a healthy eating school. I then went to every class with an apple and a chocolate biscuit asking which one was the heathy option. I put this on a spreadsheet and the inspector changed this judgement to “good”.

During several points in the inspection we referred to the handbook and questioned where judgements had come from. There seemed to be a poor understanding of the Inspection Handbook.


Pilot Inspection June 2019.

The lead inspector did not seem to know the framework that she was working to. A student was observed teaching for nearly an hour despite the fact that the guidance at that time was that students should not be observed. This student had been assured by me that she would not be observed and was in tears.

As a pilot inspection we were looking forward to working through the process and having constructive discussions. However, from the outset the purpose seemed to be to catch us out and to disprove everything that we were saying about our school. It left numerous very capable staff in tears.

During lunchtime the lead inspector spoke to some children on the playground about reading. The deputy headteacher pointed out that a group of three year 6 boys was not a representative sample and she was asked to produce a list of children who were a “representative sample”. When presented with the list she dismissed it saying “We’ve moved on from that now”

During a book scrutiny the lead inspector spotted a learning objective that was not quite right. She raised her voice and barked “Were you aware of this? Because you should have been?” She then started flinging books across the table at me and brandishing books at me. This was in front of my whole SLT, who were shocked and embarrassed. I was speechless. My SLT later commented that they could not believe that I let anyone speak to me like that.

Several staff reported that they thought the lead inspector’s smelt of alcohol. Although I did think this I did not report it as we just wanted them all to leave. She was a nasty bully who other headteachers reported similar behaviour from.

July 2023