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Demos calls for students and parents to inspect schools

The current system of school inspection is “profoundly toxic” the think tank Demos has warned in a new report.

Detoxifying School Accountability, published today, calls for Ofsted inspections to be replaced by ‘multi-perspective inspections’ taking views from parents, students and teachers.

A yearly approach would provide more up-to-date information and analysis and solutions would be developed from within schools, making it more likely that change would take place.

The report also recommends replacing standardised exams with a broader range of qualifications to improve choice, and informing pupil and parental choice about qualifications with new databank using school and National Insurance data to track career progress.

Report author James Park said: “For too long, teachers and school leaders have been labouring in a toxic system, striving to meet targets at the expense of a good quality education for their students. International evidence shows that an education system which trusts professionals is more likely to succeed, yet policy over the past 20 years has systematically undermined trust.

“A system where all interested parties – leaders, teachers, students, parents and inspectors – have a say would be a step in the right direction. It would represent a crucial move away from a target-obsessed culture to a more balanced, trusting and effective education system.”

Duncan O’Leary, deputy director of Demos, said: “The Government’s reforms are designed to increase parental choice and to replace government targets with more professional discretion. These proposals are based on the same logic.

“Targets, tables and inspection regimes have their place – but you can only so much from the top down. As every parent and teacher knows, Ofsted inspectors rarely see the true picture of a school. An approach that amplified the views of parents, pupils and teachers could be more demanding, more honest and more effective in the long-run.”

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