William Eichler 04 May 2018

Whitehall announces decision to ‘simplify’ school assessment system

Head teachers have welcomed the Government’s decision to ‘simplify’ the system by which schools performance is assessed.

The education secretary Damian Hinds today will announce that the ‘spectre’ of multiple inspections will be replaced by a single assessment.

Under the current system, there are classifications of so-called ‘coasting’ schools and those that fall below minimum targets — known as ‘floor’ standards — for exam results, on top of Ofsted inspections.

However, in an address to the National Association of Head Teachers’ (NAHT) annual conference today, Mr Hinds will make it clear that ‘the only people who should go to schools for inspections are Ofsted.’

‘Accountability is vital. Children only get one shot at an education and we owe them the best…where they are being let down we need to take action quickly – so no one ends up left behind,’ the education secretary will say.

‘But what I’ve found from speaking to many of you these last few months is that there is also real confusion within the sector… I believe school leaders need complete clarity on how the accountability system will operate.

‘I’m clear that Ofsted is the body that can provide an independent, rounded judgement of a school’s performance.’

Mr Hinds also said the Government would not be ‘forcibly turning schools into academies’ unless they are judged ‘inadequate’ by Ofsted.

Responding to the announcement, the general secretary of the NAHT, Paul Whiteman, said: ‘The announcements the Secretary of State is making today will be widely welcomed by NAHT’s members.

‘Accountability is an essential part of our publicly funded education system but it is also one of the main drivers of workload; a big reason why many talented people leave, and often a limiting factor on the ambitions of schools.

‘It’s absolutely right that there should only be one agency with the remit to inspect schools. Clarity about the standards that are expected is just what we’ve been calling for.

‘Removing the coasting and floor standards will do much to address the confusion felt by many school leaders. It will be important that the new support standard is set at the right level and helps direct rapid, high-quality, funded support to the schools that need it most.’

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