Ofsted cannot be immune from criticism

Ofsted might currently have the government’s full backing, but as a growing number of influential voices line up to criticise the existing schools accountability system, its position shouldn’t be seen as unassailable, says Melissa Benn…

Whenever I visit a school, one of the first things I do is download its Ofsted report – those few pages of A4 with their brisk summary of achievements and challenges.

Despite my better self, I’m inevitably drawn to those brute headline verdicts of Outstanding, Good, Requires Improvement and Inadequate, even though I know how often they fail to give us a true picture of the school in question.

None of this is new. Thoughtful critics of Ofsted have long called out the limitations of remote national inspection and, in the unforgettable words of union leader Mary Bousted, “The toxic accountability regime of Ofsted, an agency at the middle of a spider’s web of inspection, tests and league tables.”

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