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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. 

Ofsted - a change for the better?

Thank you to all members who have told us how Ofsted’s new inspection framework is playing out in your schools. 

We’ve gathered together the feedback from your emails, discussions at regional and branch meetings, and conversations with our policy team to inform our new report which sets out NAHT’s emerging findings on the new inspection arrangements.  

You told us:

  • The new framework tries to do too much; inspectors cannot hope to fulfil its demands. Too often judgements are formed on a scant evidence base. 
  • Ofsted has adopted a secondary lens through which to judge the primary curriculum which is proving to be deeply problematic in primary schools. 
  • Ofsted’s curriculum methodology is driving new workload and demanding a model of curriculum management that schools do not have the capacity or resource to implement.

Read the full report below. 

What happens next?

We’re pressing Ofsted and the DfE at the highest levels to listen to and work with the profession to make improvements to the framework.

We have also launched an ongoing survey which will give us more evidence for our campaign. (Please note that members will need to be logged in to access the survey.)

We’re asking every member whose school is, or has been inspected since September 2019, to complete it. We need you to feedback your experiences, both good and bad. The survey will be open all year.

Early next month your national executive will meet to discuss the head teachers’ round table call for school leaders to stop working as Ofsted inspectors. 

We’ll keep you informed about our campaign through your weekly members’ newsletter.

First published 12 February 2020