Parentkind contributes to the Beyond Ofsted report, calling for a transformation to rebuild parents’ trust

Education policy England
20 November 2023
The Beyond Ofsted Inquiry, commissioned by the National Education Union, calls for a system that builds trust with parents and teachers, delivers improvements across all schools, and is independent of government.

In 2022, the NEU called for the Department for Education (DfE) to review school inspection and alternatives to the current system. These calls were based on increasing evidence from their members and the wider literature that school inspection was doing more harm than good.

Parentkind’s ongoing work with parents to represent their views and voices contributed to the report’s findings. This included the 2023 poll of parents around school inspections.

Inspections need significant reform

As part of focus groups to gather in-depth reflections, parents expressed that they did not trust the Ofsted rating and inspection protocol, and many conducted their own visits to gauge the school climate before enrolling their child.

They raised issues with the lack of consistency in inspections and out-of-date reports that did not reflect the current school environment.

We’ve all seen staff at our schools absolutely driven to distraction by Ofsted. That is negative to our children and as a parent, I want the best environment for my children to learn and flourish, and grow.


Negative impact on teachers and school staff

As well as not finding it helpful, parents responded negatively to the extreme stress and fear experienced by school staff during inspections.

They explained how inspections and ratings shifted the dynamics of the school and negatively impacted the educational and emotional experience of their child.

More than just a grade

Several parents in the focus groups discussed the hollow nature of the inspection and claimed it was a game or performance. One parent noted that parents also feel inspection pressure and stress experienced by teachers.

The need for performance thus appears to extend even to the parents and carers, who want their child’s school to be given a positive grade. This also suggests a lack of trust in the process, again casting doubt on the idea that parents need or want a grade.