We all know how hard staff in schools work to ensure children are getting the best possible education.
But are the demands being put on schools too great, and does Ofsted need to change the way it carries out its inspections?
Fareham MP Suella Fernandes has made her views very clear, saying there needs to be significant change in how Ofsted inspections are done.
‘I think that, by and large, Ofsted does a difficult but necessary job well,’ she says.
‘The current system is a significant improvement on the situation 30 or 40 years ago, when the oversight of schools was much weaker and, as a consequence, there was a risk that underperforming schools could continue failing their communities for long periods.
‘However, the system is not perfect, and I think it does need to be reformed.’
We must ensure it is not a system that forces schools into tick-box exercisesSuella Fernandes
Miss Fernandes is a member of the Education Select Committee and having helped set up a free school in London, has experience within education.
‘I am passionate about improving standards and rigour in our schools,’ she says. ‘We should be open to innovation and change in schools, but we can’t lose sight of the most important thing – which is teaching children in the most effective way.
‘The curriculum reforms the government has implemented in maths, early reading and the teaching of grammar have been very positive, but I think we need to continue that work in other subjects too.
‘It is absolutely right that parents demand high standards for their children, and schools must be held accountable for their performance. So there will always be pressure.
‘But we must ensure it is not a counter-productive system that forces schools into bureaucratic tick-box exercises that don’t actually help raise standards.
‘What the government is now doing, tackling the problem of “coasting” schools, is the next step in efforts to raise standards across all schools, and that is very important.’
But Ofsted does have some supporters.
Councillor Peter Edgar is in charge of education at Hampshire County Council. He said: ‘I would be against future reforms.
‘There has to be an evaluation when it comes to inspecting schools.
‘If we keep changing it every five minutes no school community is going to know where they stand with Ofsted.
‘We have demanded far too much in our school communities and we have demanded far too much with academic results.
‘We haven’t reviewed the whole picture. When a school has a poor Ofsted it leaves the impression that every single teacher and pupil in the school is failing which is rubbish. Most teachers and pupils are doing well.
‘It’s important that we have some sort of inspection. I think they have moved in the right direction.’
Councillor Neill Young is in charge of children and education at Portsmouth City Council.
He says: ‘As a regulatory body it’s there to support improvement in schools. It does do the job that we need it to do.
‘When you look at the changes it’s always a challenge to take them on. Teachers do then have to ensure that they are meeting the new criteria.
‘I don’t think it’s a bad thing to try and strive to improve the quality of the teaching in our schools. We need to ensure we are encouraging improvement in our education.’
VIEW FROM THE HEAD
Craig Williams is the headteacher at Purbrook Junior School, which was graded ‘requires improvement’ by Ofsted in an inspection a year ago.
Mr Williams said he trusted Ofsted and said the pupils must come first.
‘Changes are always going to happen in education,’ he said.
‘As a school we have got to get on with it.
‘We have just got to try and move forward with it.
‘I had no issue with the judgement and I think it was accurate.
‘As a school we have moved forward significantly since then.
‘The outcomes for children was the thing that put us in “requires improvement” because it looked as if the school had been standing still for a long period of time.
‘From that judgement we can’t argue with it but it’s been a catalyst for things that we have done since.
‘It made us move forward at the correct rate.
‘We have got a plan. We need to be good to give our children the best education we can.
‘That’s what we will continue to do.’
WHAT OFSTED CURRENTLY LOOKS AT
Ofsted is the Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills.
It inspects and regulates services that care for children and young people, and services providing education and skills for learners of all ages.
Every week, it carries out hundreds of inspections and regulatory visits throughout England and publishes the results online.
It reports directly to Parliament and is independent and impartial.
There are four main elements inspectors will look for when carrying out an inspection:
Effectiveness of leadership and management: This looks at how the school is being run and how leaders try to ensure pupils succeed.
Quality of teaching, learning and assessment: This is about the lessons themselves and how teachers are helping pupils to progress through learning and testing.
Personal development, behaviour and welfare: This looks at the way pupils develop their abilities and how they behave in class and around school.
Outcomes for children and other learners: This is about how children progress in their time in school.