Bristol teachers criticise Ofsted for 'publicity swoop'

Teachers in Bristol have criticised Ofsted for the way it publicised school inspections which took place across the city last week.

The visits had been brought forward after concerns that 32% of schools were "less than good".

Head teacher Rachel Thomas said publicity around the "swoop on Bristol" did not help to raise confidence.

Ofsted said its announcement of "targeted inspections ensured parents were informed".

'Anxiety in spotlight'

Sixteen schools were visited by the regulator which said it wanted to investigate a "disproportionate number of under-performing schools".

Using data from December 2012, Ofsted's press release stated the national average for underperforming schools was 26%.

Ms Thomas, from Filton Avenue Junior School, said: "We knew we were due an inspection and wanted to show them our good work.

"We felt that being in the spotlight just added another layer of anxiety.

"We are all working really hard to make sure children in Bristol get a good deal and I don't think the publicity around this Ofsted swoop helped the situation.

"You cannot pull out a good inspection - you cannot pull the wool over their eyes.

"It's a very rigorous process - it's not a case of performing on the day."

'Prejudicial view'

Anthony Austin from the National Association of Head Teachers said: "What we would normally expect is for them to come in to a city, to do their analysis and to report their outcomes at the end, not to create a prejudicial view in the public mind.

"We're all completely committed to the idea of accountability and we're pleased when teams come externally and give us validation of the good work that's going on in Bristol."

Ofsted regional director for the South West Lorna Fitzjohn said: "Every parent wants their child to have a decent education and every parent deserves the right to know how well schools are performing in their area.

"Ofsted is determined to raise standards in education and ensure all children regardless of where they live go to a good or better school.

"Our announcement of targeted inspections ensures that parents are informed, providing a transparent and accountability of the services that parents and people in Bristol would expect."

Ms Fitzjohn will meet Bristol City Council on Monday - which is a routine part of the inspection process. The results of the inspections will be made public in September.

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