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Monday, 8 February 2016

Lib Dems propose shake up of school inspections

The Liberal Democrats are calling for changes to school inspection regimes, to give teachers and schools ground-breaking new powers to challenge the outcome of the Office for Standards in Education, Children's Services and Skills (Ofsted) inspections.

In 2012 Ofsted prepared for their current framework for inspections after piloting a series of inspections across the country. The most controversial change was the new system relabelled the "Satisfactory" category as "Requires Improvement", with an expectation that schools should not remain at that level.

Liberal Democrat Education spokesperson, John Pugh, will introduce a Bill on Tuesday which aims to replace current inspections with a new system which encourages improvement and support. Ofsted currently has more than a thousand permanent employees and a budget which costs the taxpayer £153 million every year. 

The Liberal Democrats say they believe that teachers and schools should be held to the highest standard. However it is only fair that they are properly listened to as part of the inspection process.

Under these proposals, the outcome and recommendations from an inspection should be jointly agreed by both the inspector and the school. When this isn't possible because the school disagrees strongly, it should have its response included in a section of the final report which is made public.

Commenting on his Bill, John Pugh said: "Ofsted does a good job but sometimes we all get things wrong. The problem at the moment is that when that happens, schools’ reputations can be ruined and hardworking teachers can see their careers go up in flames. Inspection has a valuable role in education but the way we do things currently is far too burdensome and bureaucratic."

"Many of the countries who exceed the UK in performance, like Finland have a quite different approach to driving up school standards and we should learn from them." John Pugh added.