Bridget Phillipson, Shadow Education Secretary, set out Labour’s plans last weekend to college and trust leaders outlining their vision for major reforms to Ofsted.
Bridget outlined in her speech that the next Labour government would move away from the system of headline grades to a new ‘report card’ that tells parents, simply and clearly, how well their school is performing, because ‘parents and schools deserve better than a system that is high stakes for staff, but low information for parents’. The announcement also revealed that Labour would create a new annual review of safeguarding, of health and safety, of attendance and off-rolling.
Community’s Education and Early Years section welcome these announcements that would ease the pressure of workload for teachers and teaching assistants, and the ending of the unhelpful one/two-word headline grades.
Under the current system, schools are put into special measures and ‘require improvement’. These grades can be very damaging for schools and can lead to further problems as it doesn’t reflect the full story behind the headline grades. As a result, this system can be demoralising for education professionals working in schools as well as drive up workload.
Community believes that Ofsted should be supportive, not punitive, and the recent announcement over inspection visits being announced on the Friday before they are due to take place on the Monday only adds to the pressure on schools that are already struggling.
Socio-economic status is another key issue that needs to be addressed, as it has been evidenced that there is a bias from some Ofsted inspectors about schools in poorer areas providing a poorer education than the more affluent areas. A whole school approach regarding how a school is tackling socio-economic deprivation and the hard work that educators play in these schools should be celebrated, as it is the educators in the less affluent schools that face difficult challenges in ensuring students can achieve higher grades. In addition to this, they are often the schools that also suffer the most from lack of funding.
It is a welcome to see some real thought and substance going into a plan from the Shadow Education Secretary that will be of real value. Once implemented, these changes would certainly be of help to the profession. We look forward to working with Labour and shaping this agenda going forwards.
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