Senior teacher Rob Dyson* says his last Ofsted inspection remains a “trauma”. Drinking tea in the staff room of the academy in the north of England after the inspector left, having delivered the verdict that the school had plummeted from “outstanding” to “requires improvement”, he says everyone was “ashen faced”. Noticing that the deputy head had turned a “terrible colour” and looked unwell, Dyson ushered him into the toilets.
“He started having a heart attack right there in front of me,” Dyson recalls. “It was absolutely shocking.”
Dyson got home that evening, after his colleague had gone to hospital in an ambulance, and took the dog for a walk. “I stood on the riverbank and I was just looking at that river. I had this awful sense of injustice. Our school was warm and friendly; it was absolutely bubbling,” he says. “But I snapped out of it and came home.”
He explains that this sort of “horrible” rating isn’t just crushing for the leadership team – it also sends the school into a downward spiral. “Your funding falls because parents don’t want to send their kids to you, and the staff you need to get you out of this hole start leaving,” he says.
The school looked into appealing the rating, but Dyson says although they felt they had a strong case, “the legal costs were just too punitive”.
Andrew Morrish, a former headteacher who co-founded Headrest, a helpline for heads in crisis, during the pandemic, says the pressure and fear surrounding Ofsted inspections has become “entirely too much”.
Apparently checking on how the bureaucracy is spending the money is something that just shouldn’t;t happen. Fork overthe cash and ignore the efficacy being the mantra.