Written evidence submitted by a Member of the public
I was a teacher for 27 years and always loved my job. I have taken part in 6 Ofsted inspections over my years and worked in special measures schools and also a double outstanding. Teaching was something that I really enjoyed and was good at but having taken up my first headship 6 years ago, I chose to leave the profession at Christmas.
I hadn’t been inspected since 2017, where we had been graded good and were fully expecting to get good again however, the ongoing stress and the impact that this had on my health made me make the decision to leave the professional. For the last year of my headship, I woke up daily at 3am and regularly had heart palpitations. My relationship with family suffered as I spent all of my time either working or worrying about work.
We supported the children in every way we could during COVID. Live lessons online, food parcels, visits for vulnerable families and running a really successful key worker and vulnerable group in school. We made a difference and the parents were very thankful for what we did.
To expect schools to then return to normal with the same rigour around the curriculum and quality of education meant that we couldn’t support children with what they needed. The staff were equally scarred by COVID but I felt myself demanding more and putting increasing pressure on then in terms of workload to prepare us for inspection.
When we thought we had gotten our curriculum in a strong place, Ofsted would raise the goal posts with the release of their subject reviews and videos and we felt that, if we didn’t implement what they were suggesting, we could be at risk. When did Ofsted set expectations of the curriculum? This has never been their remit but I feel that what they are doing now is setting precedents that are unobtainable.
I relish accountability and challenge. I have always been someone who wanted to solve or change something and would always work to improve outcomes for my pupils. The words in my first letter as a head stated: The children come first and everyone in my school knew this and worked there because of it. What changed over time was that I was doing things for Ofsted and not necessarily for the good of the children and this conflict inside me meant that I had no option than to leave or to lose myself and my philosophy of education.
I have many friends, who are still headteachers and I see how they are impacted by the fear around inspection. These are committed individuals and see their role as a vocation. They are driven by the need to make a difference to the children and to ensure that their educational outcomes are the best that they can be. Like me, they are exhausted and feel let down by a system that sees inspection not as a collaborative and supportive process to improve educational standards but as a framework of compliance that will try to trip them up in any way that it can.