Ofsted: what are the latest developments? 

As teachers and school leaders we all know Ofsted has featured in the news frequently over the last 18 months. 

As busy professionals, it can be challenging to keep up-to-date with the latest developments. 

These developments include: Sir Martyn Oliver starting in his role as the new Ofsted Chief Inspector in January 2024, the Education Committee’s latest report and recommendations, Ofsted’s Big Listen Consultation, Dame Christine Gilbert’s independent review into Ofsted’s response to the Ruth Perry tragedy and calls for Ofsted to be abolished from the National Education Union (NEU).

For context, it is important to understand that Ofsted has been under intense scrutiny for its response to the death of Ruth Perry and its overall inspection framework and judgements system. 

With a new change of leadership and calls for reform within and outside the profession, will we start to see new changes this year?

At Edapt, we provide high-quality employment and mental health support for school teachers and leaders in England and Wales. We are apolitical and independent. With trending topics like this, we try to provide a clear and objective summary highlighting the key information you need to know, in a no-nonsense way.

In the coming months, we will also be publishing new support content articles delving more into employment-related details on expectations of school staff during inspections, subject deep dives and address questions that some raise about whether senior leaders need to resign because of poor Ofsted results.

Big Listen Consultation: what is it?

If you want to contribute towards Ofsted’s Big Listen consultation, it is currently open and closes on 31 May 2024

Essentially the Big Listen is an online survey which school staff (as well as parents and people who work with children) can provide feedback to Ofsted on a variety of issues (see below for more details).

Ofsted staff will also gather views directly at a variety of events and meetings.

The Big Listen seeks views right across Ofsted’s work, from schools and children’s social care to teacher training and early years.

The Big Listen explores 4 areas:

  • Reporting – how Ofsted reports on education and regulatory inspections
  • Inspection practice – the shape of education and regulatory inspections, ways of working and the craft of inspecting
  • Culture and purpose – the conduct of Ofsted’s inspections and the way it works
  • Impact – the consequences of Ofsted’s inspections for children, professionals, institutions and parents’ choices


Ofsted explains:

“We know that most people agree that we play a vital role in holding to account those responsible for educating children and learners, keeping them safe and improving their lives.

But we know not everyone agrees. We know parents and carers believe we can do a better job of providing information about education providers and local areas. And we know that many of the professionals we work with believe we can improve how we work.

We agree with these challenges.”

The results from the survey will assist Ofsted to develop its policies and inform inspection and regulatory practice.

DfE rejects calls to scrap single-phrase judgements

The DfE has rejected calls from the Parliamentary education committee for the four overall effectiveness judgments to be scrapped. 

In its formal response to the committee, the DfE said that “the government will continue to listen to views and look at alternative systems, including the various approaches taken internationally”.

The DfE also explains, “in our view the priority is to look for ways to improve the current system rather than developing an alternative to it. This includes considering with Ofsted the presentation of its findings and grades, and opportunities to highlight some of the detail sitting under the summary grade.

We agree with the Committee that at least part of this is about increasing visibility of the graded sub-judgements that Ofsted makes in the key areas of quality of education; leadership and management; behaviour and attitudes; and personal development, alongside the overall effectiveness grade. We welcome Ofsted’s decision to show the full range of its judgements on its website.”

Ruth Perry’s sister, Prof Julia Waters, reacted with fury to the government’s statement, describing it as “woefully inadequate”. 

Sir Michael Wilshaw, who was head of Ofsted between 2012 and 2016, echoed Prof Waters’ comment, saying ministers had made the wrong decision and had “not listened carefully enough”.

Independent review into Ruth’s Perry’s Death

Dame Christine Gilbert will complete an independent review into Ofsted’s response to the Ruth Perry tragedy considering:

  • The actions Ofsted took in response to hearing about the death of Ruth Perry
  • Ofsted’s communications, its engagement with stakeholders and information-sharing within Ofsted regarding the incident
  • The support Ofsted offered internally to staff, including inspectors, and how its approach was informed by clearly defined policies

The review will not examine the inspection of Caversham Primary School in November 2022, nor the judgements it made.

Dame Christine will produce a written report on her findings later this year. The report will include any recommendations for changes to Ofsted’s internal policies and processes for responding to tragic incidents. Ofsted will respond to these recommendations as part of the wider response to the Big Listen.

Sir Martyn Oliver has said:

“I look forward to receiving her recommendations for improving our policies and practice. Her review will complement the findings from our Big Listen and help us build an Ofsted that is trusted by the professionals we inspect and regulate, as well as the children, parents and carers we are here to serve.”

It should be highlighted that there have been some concerns about how independent the appointment of Dame Christine Gilbert has been, as the former chief inspector at Ofsted.

Responding to the appointment, Ms Perry’s sister Professor Julia Waters said: “Given that Dame Christine Gilbert is a former Head of Ofsted, we and others will need to be convinced that she has the necessary independence of perspective that is required for the task.

However, others have stated (such as former NEU General Secretary Mary Bousted) that they have confidence in her appointment.

Calls for Ofsted to be abolished?

Members of the NEU voted to abolish Ofsted at its latest union conference in Bournemouth.

The NEU explains:

“Members are clear that Ofsted causes more harm than good. Ofsted doesn’t just require improvement; it is in special measures. No amount of rebrand or reform can win back the trust of the profession. It needs to be abolished.

We need urgent and fundamental reform. An inspection system should not cause teachers and other school staff sleepless nights, anxiety, and an urge to leave the profession.”

The NEU is also urging its members to cease work as Ofsted inspectors and not to display their school’s judgements on banners and other publicity materials.

Other teaching unions such as the NAHT and the NASUWT are also calling for reforms. In addition, Julia Waters (Ruth Perry’s sister) has warned “delays and obfuscation” to reform will “put more lives at risk”, as she implores union activists to push for improvements not the abolition of inspection.

What’s next?

The results from the Big Listen and the independent review will be published later this year.

It will be interesting to see to what extent reforms will be made.

To keep up-to-date with developments make sure to follow us on our LinkedIn and X pages.

Additional reading

Subscribe to Edapt today from as little as £8.37 per month to get access to high quality edu-legal support services to protect you in your teaching and education career.


Latest Support Articles

Our support articles provide up to date advice on a wide range of topics including pay and conditions, maternity and paternity, dealing with allegations and staying safe online.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *