The Labour Party has used its annual conference in Brighton to announce that they intend to scrap Ofsted and reform the way schools are inspected, describing the current inspectorate as ‘unfit for purpose’.
The party plans to replace Ofsted with a new ‘two-phase’ inspection system, with all schools and education providers subject to regular ‘health checks’ which will be led by local authorities. There will also be more in-depth inspections led by Her Majesty’s Inspectors (HMIs). Under the plans these HMI led inspections would be in response to concerns arising from the ‘health checks’, or from concerns raised by parents, teachers and governors.
The party has also said if elected it will launch a ‘school improvement revolution’, based around a nationwide school-led peer review improvement programme. The proposed model is similar to that used in the London Challenge, which was launched by the last Labour government in 2003, and ran through to 2011.
Speaking about Labour’s plans to overhaul the school inspection system shadow education secretary Angela Rayner said ‘The current Ofsted regime labels and ranks schools but it doesn’t help them improve. Labour will improve standards in our schools and we will do it through collaboration, not competition.’
In her speech to the conference Ms Rayner also announced that a future Labour government would convert the Social Mobility Commission into a ‘Social Justice Commission’, which would then be tasked with ‘making the whole education system fairer through the integration of private schools.’ Ms Rayner also said that Labour would close ‘tax loopholes’ which she said were used by private schools. Money saved as a result would be used ‘to improve the lives of all children.’ Other announcements in the speech included free nursery education for all two to four year olds, and a renewed Sure Start programme to be called Sure Start Plus.
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