Six key ideas for reforming inspection

Written by: Pete Henshaw | Published:
Photo: iStock

A six-step plan has been put forward as a way of reforming Ofsted and ending its "adversarial inspection regime".

The proposals include the end of Ofsted's school improvement role, a move to a system of peer review, and an end to multiple school gradings.

Russell Hobby, the general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT), has outlined the proposals in an article published this week.

He writes: "The fundamental problem with Ofsted is overreach, both in terms of scale and in terms of intrusion. This affects quality, because it is doing too much to do it well, and behaviour, because people in school over-interpret every announcement."

Mr Hobby argues that Ofsted dominates educational thinking to an "unhealthy degree" and its role needs to be made much more proportionate.

He added: "One of the problems with Ofsted reform is that people look at it in isolation – as if it is the only way of holding schools accountable. This is a cause of overreach because we ask it to do everything. When reforming Ofsted you need to pay as much attention to other institutions as to Ofsted itself."

Among his proposals, Mr Hobby says that multiple grades have to go, with just a "good" and a "requiring improvement" grade being kept. There would then be a system of peer-review for good schools.

He added: "Schools should still aspire to excellence, but it should not be the regulator that defines it. We need to give excellence back to the profession where it belongs."

Elsewhere, he calls for an end to Ofsted's school improvement role, arguing that it creates a conflict of interest in the system. He said: "Inspection should lead to improvement but the inspectors are not the ones to do it."

Alongside his proposals, Mr Hobby also suggests that when school leaders take on a challenging school, they should get one inspection straight away and then a three-year window "to make a difference before the next".

His six proposals are:

  1. Abandon the current grading system and have just "good" or "requires improvement".
  2. Implement a system of compulsory, accredited peer-review for "good" schools.
  3. Separate safeguarding and teaching inspections led by the local authority and Ofsted respectively.
  4. End Ofsted's improvement role, it's a conflict of interest.
  5. Each inspection team is led by a full-time HMI but must include serving school leaders with relevant experience.
  6. There should be a single channel of accountability for standards and intervention should only follow inspection/safeguarding audits.

Mr Hobby added: "I think these suggestions are clear on the role of inspection – it is a safeguard against failure and an alternative to pure data. I think these proposals firmly site inspection within a wider framework of institutions and processes."

You can read the full article at

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