Children, Schools and Families Committee Press Notice


The Government should step back and allow schools the freedom to take ownership of their improvement, concludes the Children, Schools and Families Committee in a report published today. Schools feel "coerced and constrained", and the Committee warns against the complexity which results from serial policy initiatives and overlapping accountability structures.

Ofsted has grown enormously, and the Committee questions whether its remit is sustainable for a single organisation in the long term. It recommends that Ofsted's inspection framework should place less weight on test results and more on the quality of teaching and learning observed in the classroom.

HMI inspectors are well respected and highly rated, and the Committee believes that Ofsted should plan to have HMI inspectors lead all inspections. All inspectors should be rigorously trained to the highest standard.

The Government's proposed School Report Card has its merits but should not carry an overall score. A Report Card can never be a full account of a school's performance, yet the inclusion of an overall score would suggest that it was.

The Committee says that the Government envisages an enhanced role for School Improvement Partners but has yet to find a way of ensuring that there will be enough people with the appropriate skills and experience and the time to do the job.

Barry Sheerman, the Chairman of the Committee, said:

"The Government must do as it says and should let schools and local authorities take charge of improving schools, instead of shifting its priorities and plaguing schools and local authorities with targets, tests and centrally-driven initiatives. We now have an accountability framework which is far too complex and which stigmatises and undermines struggling schools. What schools need now is a period of stability and a chance for their own efforts to improve performance to bear fruit."