Cautious welcome for new Ofsted plans but senior Portsmouth teacher hits out at getting just 150 minutes’ notice for an inspection

Ofsted held a Headteacher's meeting at Portsmouth Guildhall on Monday, March 4. Alison Jeffery, director of children services at Portsmouth City Council, Cllr Suzy Horton, cabinet member for education and Janet Pearce, HMI Ofsted. Picture: Sarah Standing (040319-832)
Ofsted held a Headteacher's meeting at Portsmouth Guildhall on Monday, March 4. Alison Jeffery, director of children services at Portsmouth City Council, Cllr Suzy Horton, cabinet member for education and Janet Pearce, HMI Ofsted. Picture: Sarah Standing (040319-832)

SENIOR teachers have cautiously welcomed plans to reform school inspections.

Head teachers met Ofsted at Portsmouth Guildhall on Monday at a summit organised by Portsmouth City Council.

Jo Peach, director of Portsmouth Teaching School Alliance, Janet Pearce, HMI Ofsted, Mike Stoneman, deputy director, education and Cllr Suzy Horton, cabinet member for education, with (front l-r) David Jeapes, headteacher at Mayfield School, Sara Spivey, headteacher at Springfield School, James Humphries, University of Chichester Academy Trust, Roberta Kirby, headteacher at Fernhurst Junior School, Caroline Kirby-Hawkins, interim headteacher at Wimborne Infant School and Corina Jacobs, headteacher at Wimborne Junior School.''Picture: Sarah Standing (040319-825)

Jo Peach, director of Portsmouth Teaching School Alliance, Janet Pearce, HMI Ofsted, Mike Stoneman, deputy director, education and Cllr Suzy Horton, cabinet member for education, with (front l-r) David Jeapes, headteacher at Mayfield School, Sara Spivey, headteacher at Springfield School, James Humphries, University of Chichester Academy Trust, Roberta Kirby, headteacher at Fernhurst Junior School, Caroline Kirby-Hawkins, interim headteacher at Wimborne Infant School and Corina Jacobs, headteacher at Wimborne Junior School.''Picture: Sarah Standing (040319-825)

Inspectors are consulting on changes to how ratings are handed out, with city education leaders hoping the overall picture of what is going on at schools will be taken into account – not just pupils’ grades in exams.

Teachers hope the agency will take into account staffing pressures following budget cuts.

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Mayfield School head David Jeapes said he and his North End colleagues hope the inspections will be less data driven, and that the sector is ‘working under huge financial pressures and pressures in terms of recruitment and retainment of staff’.

Ofsted held a Headteacher's meeting at Portsmouth Guildhall on Monday, March 4. Picture: Sarah Standing (040319-857)

Ofsted held a Headteacher's meeting at Portsmouth Guildhall on Monday, March 4. Picture: Sarah Standing (040319-857)

He said: ‘Parents want, and pupils want, great results but it’s not their top priority. What people really want for schools is children to be happy, and they make great progress if we get that right.’

Mr Jeapes added: ‘It’s a real positive, I think Ofsted have listened to schools around the concerns that they had the the previous framework was driven by outcomes and outcomes alone.

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‘This new framework appears to be more balanced and takes more consideration about the curriculum – what the children are being taught, is the curriculum right for the children?’

But he added: ‘Let’s see what happens.’

Around 91 per cent of all schools in Portsmouth are rated good or outstanding.

Education cabinet member Councillor Suzy Horton also welcomed the indication in Ofsted’s consultation.

The teacher and University of Portsmouth academic said: ‘I know we have a way to go with the data but this is a real positive story if kids are being educated in good or outstanding schools - their attainment will be looking better.’

Fernhurst Junior School head teacher Roberta Kirby – whose school is rated as good – said she welcomed the consultation but was concerned 150 minutes’ notice for inspections could be disastrous.

She said: ‘It’s just plain rude and shows a lack of understanding about what happens in a school. As a headteacher I feel I should be there for Ofsted. If we were given two hours’ notice it’s not sufficient to be there.’