Ofsted says non-stop testing is bad for kids. Too late, mate

The Guardian reports that Amanda Spielman thinks schools have been strained by government-imposed league tables, endless targets and exams – but teachers have been saying this for years.

The head of Ofsted, Amanda Spielman, has just declared that “a good inspection outcome will follow” only if schools are providing “a broad and rich curriculum”, and not just creating “exam scribes”. Excuse me while I scream and cram myself into the fridge to stop my blood boiling, because Ofsted is rather late off the mark with this idea. About 30 years too late.

My friend Fielding and I, who taught together at a comprehensive in the 70s, have been complaining, writing about, warning and despairing over the “pressure created by performance tables” for at least three decades, along with the bulk of the teaching profession. Now, at last, Ofsted has caught on.

Too late, mate. Exhausted, dispirited and burnt out by their struggle with government-imposed league tables, endless targets and exams, and seeing the destructive effect it has had on their pupils, teachers have been breaking down and leaving the profession en masse for years. And who has been cracking the whip over our knackered teachers? Why, Ofsted! Now it’s going to punish them for what it’s been bossing them into doing since its inception.

People have been warning councils and governments until they were blue in the face about brewing dangers, that things done on the cheap don’t last and can be perilous, and that prevention is better, and less costly, than cure – but with no luck, until the big, gaping cracks have begun to show. Now, with children, teachers and parents half-crazed by exams, targets, tests and inspections, up rears Ofsted, from its secluded bunker, to tell us that non-stop testing does children no good. Thanks for nothing.

Read more Ofsted says non-stop testing is bad for kids. Too late, mate

Does this sound like you? Please tell us your thoughts in comments or via Twitter ~ Tamsin

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  1. Well said Michele Hanson. Before Ofsted there was a small corps of HMIs, available for very occasional and gentle inspections plus crisis events, and local authority inspectors who knew their schools and were seen, generally, as supportive of schools. It worked! Teachers are trained and committed professionals and do not need oppressive inspection. Ofsted should be disbanded and a bonfire made of government targets and league tables. Primary schools should be relieved of all testing until children leave these schools at eleven. Schools are not factories and should be freed of governments treating them as input-output systems. The slogan should be TRUST TEACHERS AND LET THEM TEACH1

  2. Martin Moorman

    Well said Michael Bassey and Michelle Hanson. If we are serious about reducing public spending let’s start by redefining OFSTED and reducing th huge amounts that it costs to run every year. They have become a runaway train in terms of the power they wield. They cost a fortune and inspections are frequently administered by people who haven’t delivered a proper lesson in years. They are out of touch and often totally subjective. School’s are now told not to prepare for an OFSTED inspection…..I’m not sure I know of a school who could ever take that approach. It costs a fortune and I really do question the validity of the judgements made.
    Good and outstanding schools should be allowed to get in with it without this external interference. Bring back the HMI inspector who had a family of school’s and saw them every half term. Loads better, the inspector knew their school well and were therefore far more likely to secure improvement than the current ‘suspect them all’ mentality.

  3. Nairb1

    Bear in mind that what Ofsted does and what it says are different. Section 8 inspections of ‘Good’ schools are one day affairs unless the inspectors decide, after day one, to convert to a two day Section 5 inspection. They are now moving towards some ‘Good’ schools having a full Section 5 anyway, that decision being based solely on data. That’ll encourage schools to stop concentrating on a narrow curriculum!

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