Ofsted’s key stage 3 report is too simplistic and unfair on schools – ATL
Commenting on Ofsteds report on key stage 3 education for 11- to 14-year-olds, Dr Mary Bousted, general secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL), said:
“Ofsted’s report is too simplistic and fails to give a fair reflection of what is going on in schools. Ofsted inspections rightly concentrate on visiting schools which are performing less well and rarely inspect outstanding ones, so it is unfair to then use this as a basis on which to judge all schools.
“Some schools undoubtedly need to improve the transition from primary to secondary school, but it is a pity the report is so focussed on the difficulties and not on the many schools which are doing things well*.
“Ofsted also ignores the context within which secondary school leaders and teachers are working. Secondary schools have to focus their limited resources on key stage 4 because of the significant changes to GCSE and A-level syllabuses the Government has demanded over the last few years.
“In addition, the Government’s changes to the national curriculum and end of key stage tests in primary school have made it much harder for primary and secondary schools to work together. And Ofsted inspections force schools to focus on their individual results rather than looking more widely at how to support pupils as they move between schools.
“And the Government’s real terms funding cuts are just icing on the cake for schools at a time when school leaders are struggling to recruit teachers and find enough resources for their pupils. Given tough choices, school leaders are being entirely rational in prioritising key stage 4. Insufficient funding and a shortage of teachers make it difficult for school leaders to apply an equal focus on key stage 3. This report therefore tells us as much about the problems with the Government’s focus as it does with what schools are doing.
“ATL calls on policymakers to help schools work together to improve education for all pupils, rather than keep bashing schools which are doing their best in difficult circumstances.”
* ATL’s curriculum website ‘a curriculum that counts’ highlights some excellent examples of what schools are doing, and offers opportunities for teachers and leaders to learn from each other.