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SCHOOL INSPECTIONS: Headteachers ask for break from inspections to avoid pandemic burnout

SCHOOL INSPECTIONS: Headteachers ask for break from inspections to avoid pandemic burnout


Headteachers dealing with the exhausting effects of the coronavirus outbreak have called for Ofsted school inspections to be suspended.

They have warned staff are at risk of burnout with “disastrous” consequences for schools as they continue to deal with the pandemic.

The charity Schools North East, which represents 1,150 schools in the region, has written to Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi asking him to step in.

Measures the organisation has called for include suspending Ofsted inspections, stripping away bureaucracy and halting the league table system temporarily.

Schools North East director Chris Zarraga said the education system has been under enormous pressure throughout the pandemic, and the situation now was far from normal.

He wrote: “In the face of these challenges, schools have gone ‘above and beyond’ to ensure that students can access both education and vital support such as food.

“This has increased staff workload significantly, with school leaders deeply concerned about the negative impact of this on staff, in particular the rising toll on their emotional wellbeing and physical health.

“Despite the lifting of lockdown restrictions and the rollout of the vaccine, North East schools continue to experience very significant Covid-related disruption.

“Managing this disruption and supporting students as they recover from the pandemic’s ongoing impact has left staff exhausted, in what is always a uniquely challenging term.

“Failure to protect our schools could have disastrous long-term consequences for education in our region.”

He said many expectations of teachers were “not realistic” and risked “increasing staff burnout and driving dedicated professionals out of education”.

He suggested schools need time to recover and urged the Education Secretary to suspend Ofsted inspections.

He said: “It is not clear how Ofsted can make fair and accurate judgments considering the differences in regional impacts of the pandemic, as well as the varying experiences of different groups of students, such as those from disadvantaged backgrounds or those with special educational needs.”

Mr Zarraga said schools needed to “jump through hoops” to access Covid-related support grants and he asked for the system to be simplified.

He also said league tables could be unfairly punishing those schools working in the most difficult circumstances – explaining that some in the North East had dealt with particularly high levels of disruption.

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