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Structures, inspection and accountability


School leaders understand the need for public accountability. Parents, politicians and the wider public want to be sure that schools are doing their very best for the children they serve.

However, we also recognise that the current low-trust accountability system is based on a narrow range of measures that drive a range of perverse incentives and unintended consequences and that the current high-stakes inspection system all too often instils fear and stifles innovation. 

NAHT is committed to securing fairer methods and measures of accountability, so that pupils’ performance and school effectiveness are judged using a broad range of information, including the school's broader context and performance history, rather than a narrow focus on data.

Ensure published performance data are calculated and used fairly

  • Press the government to take action to ensure understanding across the sector of changes to primary progress data from 2020
  • Engage with the DfE to ensure that the reception baseline assessment is a valid baseline for progress 
  • Work with the DfE to ensure the methodology, publication and use of performance data is accurate, proportionate and appropriate.


Press for a transition from vertical high-stakes approach to accountability to a lateral system with greater ownership by the profession itself

  • Further develop, articulate and argue the case for a new approach to school accountability, building on NAHT's Commission, and working with other partners
  • Campaign against a hard accountability measure on exclusions
  • Make the case and lobby for a wholly independent complaints process for appeals against Ofsted inspection judgements
  • Lobby for the publication of all training materials for inspectors to ensure transparency and equity
  • Lobby Ofsted for greater transparency regarding the experience, skills and training of inspectors for specific phases and settings
  • Monitor members' experiences of the new inspection framework, holding Ofsted to account for the consistency, reliability and behaviour of inspectors, particularly around curriculum and the quality of education judgement.


Ensure any changes to school structures or systems benefit all pupils within a local community

  • Continue to oppose any form of forced academisation
  • Continue to oppose any expansion of grammar schools
  • Promote and advance local accountability, transparency and democracy in school structures and governance so that schools are best able to serve their wider local community
  • Make the case for centrally coordinated place planning to ensure all new school provision meets demand
  • Promote the full variety of school collaboration from Trusts to informal collaborations. 

NAHT welcomes the government's proposal to end the exemption of outstanding schools from routine inspection

NAHT has welcomed the proposal to end the exemption from inspection for outstanding schools, meaning that in future Ofsted will be required to inspect all schools on a transparent cycle of inspection. This meets one of the key recommendations of NAHT's Accountability Commission.

Members tell us that too often the outstanding label acts as a brake on development and impedes innovation. Parents are confused by reports for a school that may have been last inspected more than a decade ago, and exemption can act in combination with the high-stakes of inspection creating a barrier to recruitment.

Our response urges the Department for Education (DfE) to put fairness and prudence at the heart of inspection policy.  It calls for all formerly exempt schools, regardless of the length of time since their last inspection, to be reintegrated into the cycle of routine inspection through a section 8, rather than a section 5, inspection.

We also urge the DfE to take the opportunity to make further progress with inspection reform by removing the outstanding judgement altogether and replacing it with a more robust system for identifying specific excellence within individual schools - another key recommendation made by our Accountability Commission.

You can read our response below. 

First published 18 February 2020

First published 18 February 2020