BBC Interview - CEO Wayne Norrie talks about Ofsted.
Our CEO, Wayne Norrie was interviewed by BBC on 30 March regarding Ofsted.
"I believe all children should have a great education and I fully support our sector being regulated – schools must be held accountable for their work. But, in my opinion, the current system is not working."
Individual Inspectors are only applying the framework they have been given to inspect schools but are constricted by a process which creates anxiety across the sector. When things go wrong and a school submits a detailed complaint there is rarely the opportunity to have the original grade overturned; even when there is compelling evidence that grade is wrong. This all impacts on a school's ability to recruit and retain good staff, this is especially true for schools serving the most disadvantaged areas of the country.
Supportive regulatory reviews should be done with schools, not to them, with the context of each school skilfully taken into account. Sadly, this has not been the experience for many schools recently and an 'Inadequate' label has huge consequences for colleagues' livelihoods and wellbeing.
One of the major issues with Ofsted is that they are continuing to apply a pre-pandemic framework in a post-pandemic world. The current framework is not fit for purpose. There is insufficient consideration given to the impact COVID-19 has had, and is still having, on schools and the communities they serve. There is no space in the current framework to consider the impact the growing post COVID gap between the most affluent and the most disadvantaged in society is having on schools.
There is simply not enough recognition of how effectively schools are working to elevate the impact of the current cost of living crisis supporting children and families without any additional resources. Our schools are an important part of a community. We have to make sure that inspection is focused on making a judgement on the effectiveness of the work of a school; not a judgement on the community it serves.
In addition, attitudes towards schooling, good attendance and behaviour have shifted considerably in many communities since the pandemic. The current framework, especially the section which focuses on Behaviour and Attitudes, is not agile enough to cope with the challenges experienced by schools as they work hard to support their children and young people readapt to schooling after the pandemic. This is further compounded with the increasing weight of pupil voice in influencing inspection outcomes, especially when their views are not triangulated by inspection teams on the ground.
All colleagues in our sector want the same thing – for all schools to be the best they can be and for all children, young people and staff to thrive within them. The crucial debate is how regulation can best support this aim. It is clear the current system isn't working, and it is our sector's duty to enter into constructive conversations with Government, Ofsted and colleagues to ensure a fairer regulatory framework for all."