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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 tells inspectors to welcome senior leaders' support for subject leads

NAHT is pressing both Ofsted and the Department for Education (DfE) through formal and informal channels on the negative impacts of the new inspection framework that members have reported.

In response to a letter from Paul Whiteman, the Chief Inspector has confirmed that her inspectors have been instructed to:

  • avoid conducting deep-dives in subjects which are led by the same member of staff
  • welcome any senior leader that wishes to support subject leaders in curriculum discussions
  • be flexible and avoid causing undue disruption to the work of a school.

Therefore, school leaders should not be prevented from supporting subject leaders, or from engaging in discussions with inspectors alongside the subject lead.  

In addition, Ofsted has reaffirmed that inspection does not scrutinise or judge individual teachers or subject leaders. 

Inspectors should conclude their work in school by 6pm.

We advise members to familiarise themselves with NAHT's guidance which is available here.  This page also includes NAHT's response to guidance issued to subject leaders by NEU.

If you have concerns about an inspector's conduct, or about the security of the judgements that inspectors are reaching, it is critical to raise your concerns during the inspection.  Do not wait until after the inspection is completed.

We advise that concerns are raised with the lead inspector initially.  Be sure to seek help and support from the NAHT helpline on 0300 30 30 333. 

First published 20 January 2020

First published 20 January 2020