Academy principal calls for Ofsted to be scrapped

Mark Cottingham, principal at Shirebrook Academy.
Mark Cottingham, principal at Shirebrook Academy.

The education watchdog Ofsted has recently announced it wants to move away from using exam results to judge a school’s quality in favour of its ability to prepare young people for life after they leave, writes Mark Cottingham, principal at Shirebrook Academy.

This is a move which, on the face of it, appears to be good news.

Although exams are an easy way to judge a school – after all, getting students the best qualifications possible is a key priority for schools – it doesn’t reflect everything that schools provide for their students, nor take into account their own abilities or backgrounds.

However, in my opinion the move doesn’t go far enough, because the whole premise of Ofsted is highly flawed .

And, as a result, I think it needs to be scrapped.

I understand that schools need to be accountable.

But Britain is the only country that spends so much time and energy on a regime like Ofsted, which has had no discernible impact on standards whatsoever and whose reports date very quickly.

If the Chancellor really wanted to help schools pay for what he calls the ‘little extras’, then he should just close Ofsted down, give the schools the money and then replace it with alternative system.

If I got the chance to design such a system, it would feature an annual safeguarding review and would give the job of overseeing schools’ standards to local authorities.

Those local authorities would employ local advisers to work with senior leaders, rather than putting them on trial, as Ofsted does now.

I would also set up head teachers’ peer review teams which could also offer advice, with only major concerns being referred to the Department of Education for more rigorous inspection.

We all want the best for our schools and students.

But a bad Ofsted inspection can be devastating and it can take many years for a school’s reputation to recover.

The current situation is destructive and totally unnecessary.

So while it’s good to hear that Ofsted is making changes, it’s merely tinkering with a system that just doesn’t work in the first place.