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Labour pledges Ofsted reforms

05/01/2015 Joanna
Shadow education secretary Tristram Hunt has pledged to undertake significant reforms of inspection body Ofsted if the Labour Party wins this year's general election.

Writing in the Guardian, Mr Hunt stated that Ofsted needs to "move beyond box-ticking and data-dependence". 

Too much of a teacher's workload involves preparing for inspections, the shadow education secretary said.

"Yes, Ofsted must confront mediocrity, but it must also start to allow heads the space to innovate and develop a richer criterion of school achievement," Mr Hunt added.

"So it's time for greater stability in the inspection framework, more consistency between inspectors and an end to any prescribed system of teaching."

Under a Labour government, the body would inspect on a "broad and balanced curriculum", meaning an 'outstanding' judgement would not be made if schools omitted subjects such as drama, music and sport.

Mr Hunt called for an end to the "politicisation" of Ofsted, saying it should not adjudicate on matters such as whether schools have performance-related pay or whether a good school should be converted into an academy.

The shadow education secretary pledged to give schools the freedom they need to excel. He claimed that quality of teaching and strength of leadership have been abandoned by the coalition government, despite evidence from across the globe that these are successful policies.

Radical improvements should not be discouraged, Mr Hunt said, and the sector needs to embrace the opportunities for improvement created by digital technology in the classroom, social media and the latest neuroscience.

A Labour government would ensure new schools are built in areas of need, and they would be given specific mandates to explore innovative educational approaches, he added.

The shadow education secretary said the reforms would be necessary to tackle two fundamental challenges: the fact that 1.5 million children are not getting a good enough education and the inadequacy of a "one-size-fits-all template" for improving poorly performing schools.

Mr Hunt also underlined his party's commitment to a high-quality vocational education system to reduce the number of young people not in education, employment or training.

Posted by Harriet McGowanADNFCR-2164-ID-801768526-ADNFCR
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