Sir Martyn Oliver became Ofsted Chief Inspector in January 2024, saying he wants to improve and change the way Ofsted goes about its work and as part of that promise, Ofsted has undertaken its ‘Big Listen’ consultation exercise which closed on 31 May. In this interview, NASUWT General Secretary Dr Patrick Roach put our members’ key concerns to Sir Martyn and set out our vision for the future of inspection and accountability in England.

You can view our response to the ‘Big Listen’ below or on our Consultation Responses page.

Consultation Response - Ofsted - Big Listen

NASUWT members in England continue to identify the school accountability regime as a critical area of concern. The accountability system in England has two main pillars: inspection and performance tables and floor targets.


The NASUWT has produced advice and information for teachers and school leaders on the Ofsted inspection process.

This includes information on the way in which inspection is undertaken, how evidence is used to form inspection judgements and how problems arising during inspection can be addressed.

As a result of the work of the NASUWT, the Union was able to secure the publication by Ofsted of guidance on myths and facts around Ofsted inspections.

The guidance, which as now been incorporated into the Ofsted inspection Handbook, clarifies some important misconceptions about inspection that have been used to justify inappropriate practices in schools. It confirms that Ofsted does not expect:

  • schools to provide individual lesson plans to inspectors or to provide previous lesson plans;

  • schools to use the Ofsted evaluation schedule to grade teaching or individual lessons;

  • schools to undertake a specified amount of lesson observation;

  • to see a particular frequency or quantity of work in pupils’ books or folders;

  • to see any specific frequency, type or volume of marking and feedback; these are for the school to decide through its assessment policy;

  • to see any written record of oral feedback provided to pupils by teachers;

  • schools to prepare unnecessary or extensive collections of marked pupils’ work for inspection;

  • performance and pupil-tracking information to be presented in a particular format;

  • teachers to undertake additional work or to ask pupils to undertake work specifically for the inspection;

  • schools to provide evidence for each teacher for each of the bulleted sub-headings in the teachers’ standards;

  • schools to predict their attainment and progress scores; or

  • to see a separate code of conduct document.

New inspection arrangements were introduced in September 2019. The NASUWT engaged in extensive consultation with Ofsted and, guided by feedback from members, welcomed the inclusion in the new arrangements of measures to inspect the workload and wellbeing of staff, more coherent expectations on the manageability and meaningfulness of internal assessment data and a stronger focus on the leadership of behaviour and discipline.

Members with any concerns about an inspection or about the way in which the requirements of inspection are being interpreted in their schools should seek advice and guidance from the NASUWT. Support can be obtained by emailing the Member Support Team.

Performance tables and floor standards

The NASUWT is concerned by the way in which the use of performance tables and ‘floor’ targets and standards constructed from a narrow range of pupil performance indicators in the current school accountability system in England fails to reflect the full contribution schools make to the educational progress and wider wellbeing of children and young people.

The operation of crude, data-based school standards and targets has created an environment across the education system that continues to skew the curriculum offered by schools and creates unacceptable workload pressures for teachers and school leaders.

The NASUWT has continued to press for the introduction of an accountability system that holds schools to account for the right things in the right ways, is supportive and developmental and that reflects more accurately the full extent of the contribution that schools make to the progress, achievement, wellbeing and future life chances of children and young people.