Ofsted must ‘reflect on culture’ of school inspections, Labour says

·2-min read

Labour has urged Ofsted to “reflect on the culture” of school inspections following the “heartbreaking” death of headteacher Ruth Perry.

Amid calls for the checks to be paused, shadow health secretary Wes Streeting said his party would keep them but reform the way they operate.

Shadow education secretary Bridget Phillipson will be consulting with the teaching profession on the tone and the “unhealthy” level of pressure that comes with inspections in the coming weeks, he said.

“I think Ofsted does need to reflect on the culture of inspection and the unhealthy degree of pressure that people feel under when they’re going through an inspection, it shouldn’t feel like an ordeal,” Mr Streeting told Times Radio.

“Labour’s said very clearly we are going to stick with inspections, but we are going to reform the way that they operate.”

Changes could include moving to a more balanced “scorecard approach looking at a whole range of measures”, he said.

He recalled going through an Ofsted inspection as a governor at a primary school in his borough, saying he had “never felt a level of pressure in that way in terms of accountability”.

School checks should not be halted as they are an important tool to reassure parents that children are receiving a high standard of education, the Labour frontbencher said.

Ofsted protest
Schools have been displaying photographs of Ruth Perry in solidarity after her death (Andrew Matthews/PA)

The head of the schools watchdog, chief inspector Amanda Spielman, has said stopping checks would not be in the best interests of children.

Three unions representing teachers and heads have urged Ofsted to pause inspections this week while a review is carried out into the system.

Ms Perry, who was headteacher at Caversham Primary School in Reading, killed herself in January while waiting for an Ofsted report which downgraded her school to the lowest possible rating, her family said.

Mr Streeting called it an “absolutely heartbreaking case”.