‘Ofsted doesn’t sack headteachers – but it is part of an unforgiving accountability system’

Amanda Spielman must see that, while Inspections may not directly cause heads to lose their jobs, ‘busloads’ of school leaders are forced out because Ofsted judgements undermined them, writes ASCL leader Geoff Barton in Tes.

I no longer cringe when, amid a discussion about current education policy, someone opens the cliché locker and churns out “well, you don’t fatten a pig by weighing it”.

But such is our preoccupation with measuring things in the English education system that so many conversations end up involving that phrase.

So, no, we don’t fatten a pig merely by weighing it. Constant formal assessment gets in the way of teaching – judging things gets in the way of actually doing things.

Recent headlines demonstrate just how much we take for granted our obsession in the English education system with testing, monitoring and judging, and how much we allow a certain clunky view of assessment to drive our behaviours.

Amanda Spielman talked of wanting to end the “culture of fear” across school leadership teams, saying: “The fear narrative is a bit out of proportion. You can’t come up with even one busload of heads who lose their jobs because of an inspection.”

But we do know that far too many members of leadership teams – not just heads – often in challenging communities, often after far too short a time to make an impact on behalf of their community, really do lose their jobs when people lose confidence in them. Such outcomes are too often triggered by the mechanisms of measurement – performance tables, progress measures and, yes, Ofsted inspections. These are the catalysts for personal disaster.

And, yes, you can fill a bus with them – in fact, you can probably fill several buses.

Read more ‘Ofsted doesn’t sack headteachers – but it is part of an unforgiving accountability system’

Please tell us your thoughts in comments or via Twitter ~ Tamsin

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