THE BLOG

Ofsted's Report Is Laying the Groundwork for the Government's Next Assault on Public Education

13/06/2013 16:05 BST | Updated 13/08/2013 10:12 BST

Yet again teachers, pupils and parents woke up this morning to headlines proclaiming that our public education system is in crisis.

No thought appeared to be spared by commentators that for the second time this week, young people are going to school to sit their exams with spurious claims ringing in their ears that the they are being failed by teachers and their qualifications are not worth the paper they are written on.

It is nothing short of scandalous that sweeping generalisations based on extrapolating data from 41 schools are being used to condemn standards in the other 4,500.

Of course, there is no room for complacency in relation to standards of education and the NASUWT is clear that teachers and school leaders are committed to ensuring that all children and young people are able to meet their full potential as learners.

But what Ofsted, and indeed the Secretary of State for Education, seek to do consistently is to present our public education system as broken despite the fact that it is one of the highest performing in the world. An independent international study by Pearson found that the UK is the sixth highest performing nation in the world and the second best in Europe.

It is entirely right that schools are held accountable as public bodies for the work they undertake through a rigorous, objective and evidence-based system of independent school inspection, one that highlights and celebrates successes and supports schools to continually improve.

Sadly, as this report indicates, the current Ofsted inspection system fails these basic tests on every level.

It also appears to indicate that Sir Michael Wilshaw, Her Majesty's Chief Inspector, is in denial over the role of Ofsted during the last 21 years during which has presided over a system of inspection that has judged more than two thirds of schools as good or outstanding. This sits at odds with this report and the endless stream of criticism which flows from the Chief Inspector, who is in danger of becoming regarded as the glove puppet of Michael Gove.

As a result, most teachers and headteachers are now completely sceptical about Ofsted's pronouncements on our public education system and the public interest is being ill-served by an inspection system which, rather than being independent and acting in the interests of the public, is acting in the interests of politicians.

Time and time again since this coalition government came to office, we have seen Ofsted make pronouncements or changes to its inspection system which are obviously designed to support the Secretary of State for Education's policies and reforms to education and provide a veil of legitimacy for his flawed education policy changes. Examples of this abound but the most blatant are the use of inspection to force the academisation of schools and the changes to Ofsted guidance to seek to drive Michael Gove's changes to the teachers' pay system.

This report is undoubtedly laying the groundwork for the Secretary of State's next assault on the public education system.

Pupils and the public are being failed by the increasingly politicised inspections system.

It is this that should be the focus of concern and debate, rather than the spurious content of Ofsted's latest offering.