‘Abolish school inspections’ says teacher-union chief

Ralph Surman

Ralph Surman

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A BULWELL teaching-union chief has called for inspections of schools by a government watchdog to be scrapped, claiming they have a negative effect on students and staff.

A government consultation is currently being carried out on proposed changes to the way the Office For Standards in Education (OFSTED) assesses schools.

According to OFSTED, the changes aim to re-focus school inspection on what it says matters most — the quality of teaching and learning in the classroom, excellent leadership and management and good discipline and behaviour in schools.

But Ralph Surman (pictured), secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL), who is deputy head teachers at Cantrell Primary School in Bulwell, instead wants inspections to be axed.

He said: “OFSTED’s school inspections should be abolished.

“The stress they put on everyone in schools weakens morale and damages children’s learning and development.”

Mr Surman also feels that the proposed changes will not improve the inspection programme.

He said: “There is too much variation in behaviour by inspection teams, too many inspectors who do not replicate the chief inspectors sweet reason and, to be honest, too many inspectors with insufficient experience of the kind of school they’re inspecting.

“ATL has a particular gripe.

“OFSTED has never accepted responsibility for the effects of its reputation on the behaviour of schools.

“Take excessive recording of lesson plans or over elaborate pupil-assessment schemes, still a pain for many teachers.

“Everyone knows that schools usually demand these things not because they are a good idea, but because they want to cover their inspection backs.”

The consultation, which closes next week, also seeks views on when OFSTED should inspect schools.

It suggests that outstanding schools will no longer be subject to routine inspections unless concerns about their performance are identified, and asks for views on plans to carry out more frequent inspections of weaker schools and on the circumstances in which schools may request an inspection.

It also requests peoples’ views on the factors inspectors should consider when assessing whether an inspection is needed.

Nansi Ellis, head of education policy at the ATL, echoed Mr Surmans calls and the reasons for them and added: “Regrettably the inspection changes being proposed are highly unlikely to eradicate these problems.”

The new inspection system will come into force in January 2012, subject to the Education Bill being passed by Parliament.