Is Ofsted the school bully?
Ofsted (Office for Standards in Education and Children’s Services) send inspectors to child day care centres, state schools, independent schools and teacher training colleges throughout England. Ofsted “inspects and regulates” child care centres and schools for the government.
With short notice, the Ofsted inspectors enter a school often generating stress for head teachers, managers and teachers. The inspectors put pressure on staff in the public sector for the welfare and education of children and young people to meet government demands. Educational facilities often live in fear of the arrival of these inspectors, who have the power to demolish the efforts of a school through a single negative report.
The inspectors primarily target academic skills, school attendance, child behaviour and methodology. They do not address and develop important areas of what children actually need for their support: such as healthy diet, play, friendships, the outdoors and creative learning. Government targets set the assessments for head teachers, staff and children rather than support the development of the whole child: intelligence, emotional, spiritual, creative, physical and social.
The Inspectors appear to have adopted a punitive approach to education. They leave teachers, governors and parents of children in certain schools with a feeling of failure and rejection. This approach of the government and Ofsted creates the psychological climate for resentment and hostility from the staff, parents and children.
Ofsted gives state schools in England an overall rating on a four-point scale – outstanding, good, requires improvement and inadequate. Schools that are labelled inadequate might be put into ‘special measures’ and receive termly monitoring while the school applies an action plan that fits in with government policy. An inadequate rating from the inspectors can result in the sacking of hard working head teachers, governors and senior teachers.
Ofsted inspectors never challenge the extremist educational policies of the Government but cast the blame on ‘performance” of the school or child care centre.
Searching for a school for their children, the vast majority of parents will look at the Ofsted report on the Internet to see Ofsted’s rating of the school, even if the last Ofsted visit took place years ago. Parents generally trust in these ratings without any direct knowledge or experience of the school and its overall vision or the criteria the inspectors employ.
Parents may need to consider Ofsted as a politically motivated extremist organisation pursuing conformity to government demands. Ofsted uses a name and shame policy. Such a policy intensifies the stress for the staff making it even harder for the head and teachers to support pupils who need a loving, supportive and creative environment.
Inspectors may attend a single class lesson to see how the class teacher performs. It is hard to imagine a more unpredictable way of assessing a teacher, who may feel very nervous with the inspector present. A teacher may try hard to impress the inspector. The children may feel inhibited or agitated with another adult in the classroom.
There is no evidence that these questionable Ofsted inspections and their equally questionable assessments have served the deeper needs of the children, themselves. Inspectors convey to head teachers, trustees, teachers and parents what they determine are the faults of the school but offer little remedies to address the true upliftment of everybody at the school. Grades usually determine the success or failure of a school.
With all the pressure on a cerebral education, the Inspectors contribute directly to robbing children of their childhood, including play, games and the outdoors. Teachers issue homework night after night to their pupils, including weekend and some holidays, to try to ensure good grades.
Parents come home from numerous hours of work to feed their children and then have to put pressure on their kids to do their homework, otherwise the children face detention after school. It is no wonder many children feel tired and bored in the classroom with so much information to absorb day and night. The Buddha gave a simple lesson. He said concentration, learning and wisdom comes through happiness, not through stress.
Fee Paying Schools
Ofsted does not send its inspectors to all schools in England regardless whether a state school or private education. The private, fee paying schools have occasional visits from the Independent Schools Inspectorate (ISI). ISI use different criteria so they can show every child’s development in and outside the classroom. ISI spends four continuous days in each school, exploring both curriculum and extra curriculum activities.
There is also a double standard at work. Some 1200 fee paying private schools do not have to concern themselves with the intrusions of Ofsted.
ISI goes to all the top schools including Eton College (basic fee per child around £36,000 per year), Harrow (£33,000 per annum), Winchester (£33,000 per year), Charterhouse (£33,000 per year) and Rugby (£32,000 per year).
It is clearly not a level playing field. There is a supportive system of inspection for the rich in private schools and a punitive system for struggling state schools.
Around 7% of pupils attend private, fee paying schools in England yet, in adult life, hold 50% of all senior positions in governments, business, judiciary and so on.
The government robs our children of happiness in both the private and public sector. We need a revolution to stop such widespread child abuse. Ofsted is the school bully. It is time to stop the bullies in our schools.
Let us support our children, and the variety of their needs in school, in play and at home. Let us give support to our children and our grandchildren so they grow up happy, healthy and wise.
MAY ALL BEINGS DEVELOP UNIVERSAL VALUES