Ofsted hasn’t got the resources to properly evaluate the curriculum when inspecting a school, and inspections aren’t very accurate, a fringe meeting at the Conservative party conference has been told.

Russell Hobby, the chief executive of Teach First and former general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, told the meeting that Ofsted can’t, within its current resources, ‘do a proper evaluation of the quality of the curriculum in a school, [as] they’re spending less than a day in a school in many instances’.

He went on to say that Ofsted having a view on what is a good curriculum or good teaching is incompatible with the profession having autonomy.

His solution was for Ofsted to step back and say: What are the things that we can properly evaluate [within the available resources]? Is safeguarding appropriate? Is the finance being managed appropriately? Are exclusions and inclusion managed appropriately?

‘Things that we can objectively agree on and can be evaluated,’ he said, ‘and leave it to some other source in the system [to challenge the curriculum].’

At the same meeting, Richard Sherriff, president of the Association of School and College Leaders and a former Ofsted inspector, warned that inspections were ‘not very accurate’. He spoke of ‘the tragic effect’ on schools of inspections and the accountability regime.

Responding to the points made at the meeting, an Ofsted spokesperson said: ‘Our curriculum research and a vast amount of sector feedback have told us that a focus on performance data is coming at the expense of what is taught in schools. A new focus on the curriculum will change that, bringing the inspection conversation back to the substance of young people’s learning, and treating teachers like the experts in their field.’

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