Ofsted accused of presiding over ‘reign of terror’ in schools

Ofsted accused of presiding over ‘reign of terror’ in schools
Head of the Chartered College of Teaching accuses watchdog of wanting staff to ‘just be like robots’

Teachers have been left looking over their shoulder because of Ofsted’s “reign of terror”, according to the head of a professional body,

Dame Alison Peacock, chief executive of the Chartered College of Teaching, accused the education watchdog of wanting teachers to “just be like robots” and to “stick to the script”.

She told the Times Education Commission: “Teachers are constantly looking over their shoulder, whether it’s about Ofsted judgments, whether it’s about attainment, whether it’s about workload – teachers are being driven.”

She added: “Ofsted, frankly, it’s a reign of terror. They come in, they start talking kind of highfalutin language about research outcomes and so on and curriculum coherence. It’s designed to put people on the backfoot.”

The former headteacher called for teachers to become research literate themselves to help them gain confidence and stand their ground against inspectors.

“The more that we can enable teachers to be research literate themselves, to be able to make decisions that are informed by evidence in their classroom, that they feel confident about, that they can see the impact of, they’re more likely to be able to stand their ground and actually to supersede whatever it is that an inspection regime wants,” she said.

“That was my experience as a headteacher because I was involved in research with the University of Cambridge, I was more worried about impressing the academics than I was about Ofsted.

“And so then, essentially what we did as a school was we transcended the requirement of the inspection.

“So we need to be in a position I think as a profession to build our expertise, our confidence, our certainty for ourselves about what works in our classrooms.”

An Ofsted spokesperson said: “We are unapologetic about having high standards for children’s education. And teachers and school leaders on the ground are overwhelmingly supportive of our focus on the curriculum and our use of research evidence.”

The Times Education Commission launched in June this year as a year-long project expected to inform government policy and lead to change across schools and universities.