Teachers from both “winning” and “losing” schools agree: Ofsted inspections are unfair and inaccurate

  • Two-thirds of teachers describe Ofsted inspection of their school as inaccurate, including majority in Good or Outstanding schools
  • Only one in ten “winning” schools report positive experience with Ofsted
  • 92% of teachers say Ofsted is not a reliable and trusted arbiter of school standards
  • 89% say Ofsted inspections are not a valid method of measuring school performance

Teachers from both “winning” and “losing” schools believe that Ofsted inspections do not provide a fair and accurate picture, according to new research from Beyond Ofsted, the inquiry into the future of school inspection, chaired by Lord Jim Knight.

Almost two-thirds (62%) of teachers did not think that the outcome of their most recent inspection accurately reflected their school. Even in schools rated Good or Outstanding, more than half (58%) of respondents did not think the rating was fair, demonstrating a lack of regard for the inspecting body from the teaching profession across the board.

Almost three-quarters (74%) of those surveyed described their experience with Ofsted as negative. Unsurprisingly, this figure rose to 94% among those in the lower categories but this was also the case for 67% of those who received an Outstanding or Good ranking. ¬†Only one in ten of these “winners” saw it as a positive experience.

This concern about the inspecting body is further demonstrated by the finding that an overwhelming majority of teachers (92%) from schools across all gradings agree that Ofsted is not a “reliable and trusted arbiter of standards”. A similar number (89%) disagreed with the statement that Ofsted inspections are “a valid method of monitoring performance and holding schools to account”. As over 80% of the sample came from Good or Outstanding schools, it is clear that dissatisfaction with the system is felt across the board not just in those schools with lower gradings.

Beyond Ofsted – An Inquiry into the Future of School Inspection has been established to develop a set of principles for underpinning a better inspection system and proposals for an alternative approach.

Chair Lord Jim Knight comments, “This research has been extremely valuable as we formulate our recommendations. The strength of feeling about the failings of the current system is clearly universal across the teaching profession. Our aim is to identify what is needed to make it fairer and more effective. We look forward to sharing our findings with educators and policy-makers.”

Beyond Ofsted’s recommendations will be published in late November.

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Note to editors:

The survey was carried out by researchers from UCL Institute of Education from 23 March to 26 May 2023. The sample size was 6,708 educators from both primary and secondary schools.