• May

The tragic toll of Ofsted inspections

The tragic toll of Ofsted inspections

A topic that hits close to home for all of us is the stress-inducing nature of Ofsted inspections. We’ve experienced first-hand the pressure and anxiety that comes with these evaluations. Recent tragic events have highlighted the impact this can have on mental health, underscoring the need for urgent action that will prioritise our well-being while maintaining high-quality care of our mindees.

Join us as we delve into the impact of inspections, and how a group of school leaders are advocating for change in a quest for greater transparency.

A major cause of teacher stress

The suicide of head teacher Ruth Perry demonstrated the immense pressure induced by inspections, and its devastating consequences. Ruth took her own life awaiting an Ofsted report that she knew would downgrade her school, Caversham Primary in Reading, Berkshire, from outstanding to inadequate due to “safeguarding” issues.

In fact, over the past 25 years, ten teachers’ deaths have been linked to the stress caused by Ofsted inspections. An Observer investigation also found that the pressure of school inspections has been linked to headteachers suffering heart attacks, strokes and nervous breakdowns. A helpline set up for heads reports that the vast majority of crisis calls it receives are now about Ofsted.

Recognising the need for change, teaching unions have called for inspections to be paused, urging a re-evaluation of the inspection process to prioritise professionals’ mental health and well-being.

Insights from the Early Years Alliance’s Survey

Educational charity The Early Years Alliance conducted a survey to gain valuable insights into the experiences of early years’ settings. The results were telling, with a significant number of staff expressing stress and concerns related to inspections. Out of the participants, 93% reported inspections as a source of stress “sometimes” or “often.”

The well-being of education and childcare practitioners matters, and it’s time for change.

In a show of solidarity, a group of senior school leaders, known as Fair Judgement and fronted by former Ofsted inspector and vice-president of the Conservative education society, John Bald, has taken a bold step to hold Ofsted accountable for the consequences of their inspections. They are urging teachers to contribute just £1 each in order to launch a legal challenge against the inspectorate. They want to bring attention to Ofsted’s role in “ending people’s careers, causing serious mental and stress-related physical illnesses and, at worst, ending lives”, arguing there is insufficient transparency around the criteria used to downgrade schools, which in turn is contributing to a mental health crisis among educators.

The toll on our mental health and careers cannot be ignored. As childminders, it’s crucial for us to understand the experiences of other educators and the ongoing efforts to drive reform. By sharing these stories and demanding greater transparency, we contribute to the collective voice advocating for change. Let’s stand united, shed light on the impact of inspections and work towards a fair and supportive system that prioritises the well-being of both educators and the children in our care.

You can learn more about and contribute to Fair Judgement’s Crowdfunder here.

By Ivy Steele