Fractures in DfE and Ofsted relationship exposed

Evidence has emerged of a significant breakdown in trust between the Department for Education (DfE) and Ofsted.

The Guardian newspaper has exposed an internal DfE document which describes its current relationship with Ofsted as “amber/red”.

Two teachers have also spoken out against the conduct of Ofsted inspectors and the role of the regulator itself.


The leaked DfE document describes Ofsted’s “controversial drive” to carry out ‘British values’ inspections, which began in September.

It accuses the regulator of sending “confused and mixed messages” and adds that the DfE are “trying to get to the bottom of this”.

Criticism of the schools’ regulator continues to grow in the wake of controversial ‘British values’ inspections.

Devastating education

Tom Bennett, a teacher and author who is among those nominated for this year’s Global Teacher Prize, has said that Ofsted should be abolished.

Writing for the Guardian, he said: “I’d like to see Ofsted abolished and reformed. Right now it is devastating education.”

He added: “The problem is that Ofsted appears to be an enormous bureaucracy that won’t be steered.”

Personal prejudices

Bennett argued that Ofsted will criticise or praise a school depending “on an inspector’s own personal prejudices on what constitutes good education”.

He warned that this has led to some schools becoming “frightened of their own shadow”.

Tom Sherrington, a leading head teacher at a London school, also voiced his concerns about Ofsted in a blog post reported on by the Times Educational Supplement.

Enormous flaws

Sherrington complained of “enormous flaws and absence of proper validity trials” in the current school inspection system.

The attitude of Norfolk head teachers to Ofsted has also been revealed in a recent Eastern Daily Press survey.

According to a poll of more than 160 of the county’s head teachers, almost three quarters said they have no confidence in Ofsted inspection judgements.

Wholly inappropriate

The effects of Ofsted ‘British values’ inspections have been felt in several Christian schools over the last few months.

This week The Daily Telegraph reported on the inspection of Grindon Hall Christian School in Sunderland. The principal, Chris Gray, has made an official complaint to Ofsted.

Primary school aged pupils were asked a range of “wholly inappropriate” questions on homosexuality, transsexualism and their observance of other religious festivals.

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