Teenage students interacting in collaborative workspace

The scale of Ofsted’s challenge unveiled

At a time of great change for Ofsted, this week has brought a view to the future, with new Chief Inspector Sir Martyn Oliver outlining the challenge that lies ahead for the organisation.

Speaking to The Times in his first newspaper interview since becoming Chief Inspector, Oliver mentioned how the behaviour of pupils is one of the biggest challenges that education leaders face. One example used was that staff are being stopped in corridors by children, saying “this is a no-go corridor, it belongs to the children.” Oliver also commented on the fact that members of staff are “locking themselves in their classroom during break and lunchtime for safety reasons.”

Despite this challenge, Oliver seems up for the fight, telling The Times that he doesn’t want to shy away from the responsibility that both he and the organisation he leads, have. He said:

“Everything starts with leadership, with vision and efficacy. I’m ensuring all staff are open and transparent and not defensive – and working with different groups, making sure that when listening to people, especially parents.”

Whilst Ofsted has significant work to do across the board, it has today published its formal response to the recommendations that were made following the inquest into headteacher Ruth Perry’s death. Following the Prevention of Future Deaths Report number of actions are being taken including:

  • All inspectors will be trained to recognise and respond to school leaders who are showing signs of distress.
  • Providing educators with a clear and simple process to voice their concerns about inspections to unconnected Ofsted employees.
  • A new inspection pausing policy.
  • An expert reference group that will look at staff and leadership wellbeing, including external representatives.
  • The appointment of an independent expert who will lead a learning review of the organisation’s response to the death of Ruth Perry.
Graphic with a quote from Sir Martyn Oliver, Chief Inspector of Ofsted

Commenting on these measures, which will come alongside those announced at the beginning of January, Oliver said:

“As a fellow headteacher, I was shocked and saddened by the death of Ruth Perry. As the new Chief Inspector, I am determined to do everything in my power to prevent such tragedies in the future. We accept the coroner’s findings and have responded to the recommendations of her report in full.

“We must carry out our role in a way that is sensitive to the pressures faced by leaders and staff, without losing our focus on children and learners. Our critical work helps make sure that children and learners have the highest quality of education, training, and care. We cannot afford to shy away from difficult decisions and challenging conversations where they are needed in the interests of children. I am determined that we get this delicate balance right.

“We know we still need to do more, and we will do more. Nothing is off the table, as we hold our ‘Big Listen’. I know how important it is for the sectors we work with, and for parents and carers, to trust the judgements Ofsted makes. To achieve that aim, we must go about our vital work with professionalism, courtesy, empathy, and respect.”


Image credit: iStock

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