Written evidence submitted by a Member of the public
My school was inspected last year. We were previously rated Good and after the inspection we were given RI (Requires Improvement). This was my 5th experience of Ofsted in nearly 20 years of teaching. Our town is one of two halves, our PP (Pupil Premium) has risen to 45% since Covid (previously it was 33%), our SEN is above national average. I am responding to this request for evidence because Ofsted has impacted my working and personal life.
Impact (on school/staff)
The waiting for Ofsted is very stressful – particularly for school leaders. You are aware when you are in the ‘window’ and you then expect ‘the call’ any day, every week. It hangs over you knowing that the call will come and you will have less than 24hours until inspectors turn up at the door.
During the two days Ofsted are on your site it is the most stressful time. I have worked in other organisations before teaching and I cannot compare another time like it. Your blood pressure feels as if it’s going through the roof. Our inspection last year was not helpful to us as a school, it wasn’t a positive experience and a lot of that was because of the manner of some of the inspectors (particularly a QA inspector we had with us). The QA was rude, belligerent, aggressive and hostile. There was a manner of ‘We don’t want you to do well. You won’t be doing well.’ She made other teachers cry and she was asked to apologise for her unprofessionalism. It was a negative experience that completely demoralised me. We appreciated we had development points to work on – we had taken on the new phonics scheme that September, we had new reading scheme books coming in to support that and we had three teachers new to their roles that September. Our KS2 SATs results had been positive the previous summer but the QA made comments such as, ‘Schools down the road do much better than you.’ ‘Why are you so satisfied with only 75% getting their Reading?’ ‘You obviously do not read the latest research on phonics.’ We would respond to these comments by saying we always want to do better, that we have high expectations of all our pupils and we do read and lead training on subjects etc but we felt our words always fell on deaf ears. When we tried to present evidence to say otherwise we felt we were not listened to. The system is punitive, damaging and nothing they did in the two days they were with us has improved our school at all. It has, however, given us a one-word judgement that we feel does not reflect our inclusivity, our hard work or our efforts. The ultimate impact for me is I don’t want to go through an inspection again. I feel the stress of the time waiting for them, the inspections themselves just isn’t worth the impact they have on my health and well-being. I will be looking for alternatives to the teaching profession next year.
Impact on pupils
Little impact on pupils. During the time the inspectors were with us (two days) they had contact with children for no more than 2 hours.
An unfathomable part of the inspection process is that you are not allowed to speak to your colleagues – those you work with every day and who have gone through the inspection process themselves by sitting in interviews and producing evidence. You are not allowed to let them know the outcome – it’s never really explained why. However, Governors and Local Authority people are allowed to know. That is a very difficult thing for a leader to keep to themselves – especially when it’s been a negative experience. There is no support post-Ofsted.
Impact on Workload
In primary you cover a lot of roles. I am currently Deputy Head, Yr6 teacher, English Lead, Designated Safeguarding Lead and also covering SENCo role. All teachers in primary have to lead a subject and this has been a noticeable huge impact in workload over the years I have been teaching. ‘Deep Dives’ into the subject you are leading are therefore demanding.
There is no complaints process. You complain to the very inspectors who visit and they respond to say they have found nothing untoward.
As primary teachers we are not subject specialists but this framework has meant we have had to work as mini-secondary schools. As a one-form entry school this is an immense load of work on primary school teachers who sometimes have to take on several roles.