Schools putting own interests ahead of pupils

Amanda Spielman has criticised schools in England for putting their own interests ahead of their pupils’, accusing a minority of continuing to ‘game’ the system.

The head of Ofsted issued a new inspection framework last year to encourage schools to move away from a purely results-driven culture and focus instead on a rich curriculum. However, speaking at the launch of the report in London, Spielman claims that a minority of schools are continuing to ‘game’ the system, intent on putting their own interests ahead of their pupils’.

Critics of the inspection regime believe that it penalises schools in disadvantaged areas who may be marked down for running three-year, rather than two-year, GCSE courses for some pupils. The chief inspector of schools has joined the criticism by warning against a narrowing of the curriculum and said some children, often the most disadvantaged, were not being well-prepared for adult life because of the limitations of their education.

She said: “We must guard against restricting education excessively. Exam results are important but have to reflect real achievement. We should not incentivise apparent success without substance. This doesn’t represent a good education for any child. We’ve seen schools requiring almost every child to take a qualification in English for speakers of other languages, even though they were nearly all native English speakers who were also taking English language and literature GCSEs.”

Mary Bousted, the joint general secretary of the National Education Union, has blamed Ofsted for creating the conditions where schools felt under pressure to teach to the test, arguing that ‘fear-driven change is not the way to embed better practice in schools’.

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