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Ofsted a source of “increased stress” for teachers

Ofsted a source of “increased stress” for teachers

Monday 27 March 2023

Ofsted a source of “increased stress” for teachers

Monday 27 March 2023

External school inspections are a significant source of stress for teachers, according to Guernsey’s Director of Education, who also cited media coverage of Ofsted as a secondary source of pressure.

Nick Hynes has released a statement following the suicide of Ruth Perry, the Headteacher of Caversham Primary School, which was downgraded after an Ofsted inspection. The incident has led to increased scrutiny of the Office for Standards in Education (Ofsted) and its impact on teachers.

“Everyone who works in education was deeply saddened by news of the death of Ruth Perry and our thoughts are with her family and friends at this difficult time,” he said. 

Local schools used to be inspected by Education Scotland, before a decision by the Committee for Education Sports & Culture led to Ofsted being utilised instead. It was argued that it was a more rigorous inspecting body. 

Criticism has been levied at Ofsted by various bodies, including the NASUWT teacher's union. In a statement, its General Secretary, Dr Patrick Roach, said: 

“No one should be any doubt about the tremendous pressures faced daily by school leaders and the need to ensure that all education staff are fully and properly supported to provide the very best education to the pupils they serve. The tragic death of Ruth Perry must now be subject to proper independent scrutiny, where the relevant facts in the period before, during and after the inspection are examined carefully. 

"It is also right that the role played by the inspection process must also be examined and lessons learned. Securing high educational standards must never come at a cost to individual’s health, safety and wellbeing. It will be essential that any recommendations made by the Coroner are considered fully by Ofsted, the Government and employers in exercising their duty of care to school leaders and staff.”

However, Mr Hynes said the Bailiwick has a different relationship with Ofsted than the UK. 

“In Guernsey and Alderney, we have our own framework with Ofsted and are therefore not part of England’s relationship with the inspectorate. Unlike England, our framework does not provide an overall school grading for each school which can potentially contribute to the high-stakes nature of school inspections.” 


He said, while Education values independent scrutiny “it cannot be ignored that external inspections can lead to increased stress for school teachers”.  

“One of the main reasons for this is the waiting. School leaders know that under the inspection framework Ofsted will inspect up to two or three schools per term, but we don’t know which ones in advance or when. Ofsted will contact the school two days in advance to inform them of the inspection.  

“This period of nervous anticipation “awaiting the call” is challenging for school leaders and they’ve told us that. We are looking at what we can do to further support them with this. The majority of school leaders do share that once inspection starts it is broadly a valuable and positive experience that supports their whole school development.” 

Additionally, Mr Hynes suggested that media interest in negative Ofsted reports is “disproportionate”.  

I do feel it would be remiss of me not to highlight that Guernsey’s media is fairly unique in how it reports on school inspections with such prominence and the style of that coverage. 

“While it is somewhat expected that positive inspection reports receive one day of media coverage, there is a disproportionate level of media interest in challenging school leaders over multiple days or weeks when a report is not at a level we would want it to be, and it is a fact that in Guernsey it leads to significantly increased stress for staff who are all trying to doing their best for the young people they serve.” 

Following a negative report of a local school by Ofsted in 2022, Express published three stories on that particular school. When a subsequent, second school got a negative report, Express published one.

Express has asked further questions about mental health support for teachers and staffing issues in the island’s schools. 


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