DfE: ‘No plans’ to change single-phrase Ofsted judgments

The government will respond to MPs' concerns this Thursday

The government will respond to MPs' concerns this Thursday

The government has said it has “no plans” to change single-phrase Ofsted judgments, following reports they could be scrapped following Ruth Perry’s death.

The Department for Education’s response to the education committee’s report on Ofsted, which was due at the end of March, is set to be published on Thursday.

In their report in January, MPs said a more “nuanced” alternative to “totemic” Ofsted single-phrase judgments should be developed as a “priority”.

But the department today denied plans were afoot to change one-word judgments after the Sunday Times reported they were likely to be scrapped.

The DfE said “while we are not looking to change one word judgements, the secretary of state has been clear that we will look at ways to improve the current system”.

The department said the single-phrase judgments, used across all education providers including further education, “give parents the confidence in choosing the right school for their child and provide a clear basis for taking action to improve underperforming schools”.

In January, committee chair Robin Walker, a former schools minister, said “on the now totemic issue of single-word judgements, Ofsted and ministers should heed the widespread calls for change”.

Robin Walker MP
Robin Walker MP

He urged Sir Martyn Oliver, Ofsted’s chief inspector, and the government to “consider a more nuanced system”.

A coroner ruled in December that an Ofsted inspection of Caversham Primary School in Reading contributed to Perry’s suicide.

Education secretary Gillian Keegan defended single-phrase judgments in the wake of Perry’s death, saying there were “clear” and “simple to understand”.

In April last year, she told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “I think one-word assessments are there to make sure it’s easy for parents to navigate them.”

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