Commenting on the announcement by Angela Rayner, Shadow Education Secretary, on the Labour Party’s plans for the future of inspection, Ms Chris Keates, General Secretary (Acting) of NASUWT-The Teachers’ Union, said:
“The Labour Party has rightly recognised the critical role played by an independent national education inspectorate in a fit for purpose accountability framework.
“Such a body, led by trained and experienced Her Majesty’s Inspectors, is essential in ensuring public confidence in the education system. Independent inspection provides a more rounded picture of the contribution made by schools, colleges and other educational settings to the progress and achievement of children and young people than accountability systems based on learner performance data alone.
“The Labour Party is, therefore, to be congratulated for rejecting ill-considered calls for the discontinuation of a national inspection system and for its commitment to ensuring that no school will able to operate outside this system. The NASUWT looks forward to Labour confirming that this commitment will extend beyond the state-funded sector to cover all private and independent settings.
“In developing its policy further, it will be important for Labour to address the negative impact that performance tables – the other main pillar of the school accountability regime – have on the learning experiences of children and young people, as well as on the working lives of teachers and school leaders. In particular, the curriculum narrowing evident in many schools is a direct of result of the operation of these tables. They are also in urgent need of reform.
“Local authorities also have an important role to play in the accountability framework and in supporting high standards across the education system. Ending the yawning democratic deficit that has arisen over the last decade by ensuring effective local democratic accountability is also to be welcomed.
“The Union remains clear that accountability frameworks should be based on the principle that high educational standards and regard for the wellbeing and working conditions of teachers and leaders are two sides of the same coin. It should be noted that recent reforms to the inspection framework have been based on a clear recognition of this principle.
“Notwithstanding the pressures that they all face, schools are still confronted by clear choices about how they treat their staff. While some schools make the right choices in this respect, far too many do not.
“As Labour adds more detail to its proposals, the NASUWT will, therefore, encourage it to establish an accountability and quality assurance system that gives credit to schools that do right by their workforce.
“Equally, this system must expose, challenge and intervene robustly in cases where schools cannot, or will not, meet the legitimate expectations of teachers and leaders about their working conditions and the ways in which they are treated by those in their schools with power over them.”