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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. 

No new grammar schools or removal of the faith schools 'cap'

NAHT has campaigned vigorously against the extension of grammar schools, the lifting of the 50 per cent cap on faith schools, and against compelling independent schools and universities to establish or support schools.

The Department for Education's formal response contains some welcome news:

  • There will be no new grammar schools - legislation preventing the creation of new grammar (selective) schools will remain in place. 

Instead, government intends to establish a £50m fund for the extension of existing grammar schools. Given the current school funding crisis, NAHT has made clear its opposition to this additional funding for just 163 schools that cater only for pupils with high prior attainment.  

  • The 50 per cent admissions cap on faith-based admissions to new academies and faith schools will remain in place

It will, however, be possible to establish new voluntary-aided maintained schools with a religious character – marking a major shift in policy as the opening of non-academy schools has been effectively prevented since the 2010 Academies Act.  Dioceses (or others) wishing to open a new VA school will be required to contribute 10 per cent of the capital costs relating to their schools (as is usual). In common with existing VA schools, these new schools will be able to select up to 100 per cent of pupils on the basis of their faith if they are oversubscribed.  

  • Independent schools and universities will not be compelled to sponsor an academy or free school. 

Instead, those that have the scale and capacity will be 'encouraged' to do so, or encouraged to provide support for state schools in the areas of teaching, curriculum, leadership, or other 'partnership activities.

The government's full consultation response can be found here.

First published 14 May 2018

First published 06 January 2020