‘Schools must be protected from unaccountable Ofsted’

Schools’ regulator Ofsted is “unaccountable” and operates in a “fundamentally unjust” manner, a Liberal Democrat MP has told Parliament.

In a Ten Minute Rule Motion, John Pugh MP warned that schools have no way of protesting against decisions by inspectors.

Ofsted inspectors were heavily criticised last year for asking children intrusive and inappropriate questions. Serious complaints about the questioning were not adequately followed up.


Speaking in the House of Commons yesterday, Pugh complained that Ofsted is poor value for money and despite having over 1,000 permanent employees and a huge remit, it is completely unaccountable.

He said, “we have what can become, at worst, the teaching equivalent of the Spanish Inquisition, where careers go up in flames at the mere whiff of educational heresy”.

The MP noted that currently, “even lodging a legitimate complaint is seen as futile” when Ofsted verdicts “shape the destiny of schools, and determine their structure, ownership and very survival”.

… the teaching equivalent of the Spanish Inquisition

John Pugh

Right of appeal

Pugh explained that the purpose of his Bill is to “establish the right of schools and academies to challenge the timing and format of school inspections” and “appeal against the outcomes of such inspections”.

Ofsted has come under fire for its treatment of Christian and Jewish schools using ‘British values’ rules introduced in autumn 2014.

During inspections at The Durham Free School and Grindon Hall Christian School in Sunderland, children faced intrusive questioning such as whether they knew anyone ‘trapped in the wrong body’.


Parents said they were appalled at the conduct of the inspectors, but Ofsted chief Sir Michael Wilshaw told the Education Select Committee he had “thoroughly” investigated the claims and found them to be false.

However, following a Freedom of Information request, Ofsted revealed that none of the pupils, parents or staff who had complained were interviewed.

The Durham Free School was shut down by Education Secretary Nicky Morgan in March last year following an inspection by Ofsted which claimed the school breached British Values.

New powers

The Government is planning to extend the role of Ofsted, giving it legal power to investigate any setting outside school that provides instruction to children for more than 6 to 8 hours in any week.

The Christian Institute has warned that Sunday schools and holiday Bible clubs would be caught by the plans. Read more.

Related Resources