A HARTFORD head teacher has criticised the government’s decision to keep single-word Ofsted judgement.

Hartford Manor Primary School and Nursery leader, Simon Kidwell, says the current systems of giving schools overall effectiveness grades, such as ‘Outstanding’ and ‘Requires improvement’ is ‘way past it’s sell-by date’.

This come after the Department for Education published its response to January's Education Select Committee report on the current system of school inspections, on Thursday, April 25.

The government rejected a recommendation to scrap them, however said it would 'continue to listen to views and look at alternative systems’.

The response said: “There are significant benefits from having Ofsted overall effectiveness grades.

“The government is conscious there is a strong parental awareness of the Ofsted overall grade, and the grades provide a succinct and accessible summary for parents.

“The government is also clear the whole report matters, and we would always encourage parents and others to read beyond the overall effectiveness judgement.

“In our view, the priority is to look for ways to improve the current system rather than developing an alternative to it."

Northwich Guardian: Hartford Manor Primary School and NurseryHartford Manor Primary School and Nursery (Image: Google)

Simon said he and colleagues in the teaching profession were ‘hoping for a stronger indication’ the system would be reviewed as a priority.

He added: “The single-word judgement system is now way past its sell-by date, and it’s causing more harm than good. There are other ways.

“They’ve said how important they are for parents, who they say value them, but that needs pushing back on.

“Parentkind, and organisation which gave evidence to the Education Select Committee, said 61 per cent of parents found the Ofsted reports in the current format don’t help them identify the strength and areas for improvement in a school.

“Parents are becoming more savvy. They know even an outstanding school can change significantly in the period between inspections, which can be up to 10 years.

“It’s just not an accurate reflection of the work a school does.

“The vast majority of schools are judged as good, but within that spectrum, there’s huge variation in quality of teaching. 

“The teaching profession is calling for more regular inspections around safeguarding, and a significant review of the grades because in their current format, they’re not helping with teacher recruitment and retention, both for leadership roles and class teachers.

“Subject leaders are also under a tremendous amount of pressure with the current methodology.

“There’s a lack of trust between school leaders and Ofsted at the moment, which has never been higher. It’s dominated the conversation around schools for the last year, and it’s symptomatic of when inspection isn’t working as well as it could.

“We could look towards Wales. Their current inspection framework isn’t using grades, and the relationship between the inspection body and school leaders is a warm and trusting one. I’ve observed that first hand.

“The Welsh government still intervenes with schools which are underperforming, but it does so without those Ofsted grades which are doing so much damage.”