12th April 2019

Message to Ofsted – here’s how parents want you to measure school success.

Fundamental to Let Kids Be Kids’ campaign against SATs is our overwhelming support for schools and teachers; as parents we so place much value on, and trust in, the schools we choose for our children and teachers that become a huge part of our children’s daily lives.  Our children spend so long in school and start school at such a young age that school becomes almost a second home!  The standards by which children are measured in this ‘surrogate family’ are therefore of vital importance to parents… our children’s feelings of self worth and acceptance rely heavily upon them.

Here at LKBK we are so concerned that the wrong standards are being forced to be prioritised in schools that we’ve spent the past few months deep within the technicalities of the Ofsted Education Inspection Framework consultation… a long and arduous task helped greatly by a wonderful LKBK supporter who has worked tirelessly to help us to organise the findings of our survey into something incredibly useful that, we hope, Ofsted can’t ignore!

This consultation is of vital importance – currently Ofsted place so much value on rising standards in English and maths, with too much focus on government accountability tests like SATs, that often the other standards that are important to parents are in danger of being forgotten.  Obviously we want our children to do well at school but academic values are not the only way to measure learning; we want our children to value learning and for school to encourage a lifelong desire in them to learn – not for them just to learn for the sake of a test – particularly one which does not affect their future but which is used to hold their school accountable.  If we can convince Ofsted to move away from SATs then both primary and secondary schools could be free to look at the whole child again – our children’s value won’t just be measured by their test results!

As part of the Ofsted consultation we launched a survey of parents’ views – over 1500 people responded!! Amazing – you guys are brilliant!  Parents’ voices are so important because we are advocates for our children – we have to be their voices in this world!  Our children are telling us how they feel about school right now and we have a duty to try to articulate this into words that the powerful will understand.  We hope we have done that on your behalf in this response to Ofsted.

Our findings show an overwhelming desire amongst parents that school moves away from a relentless focus on the 3Rs and shifts towards the 3Es – Emotional Wellbeing, Embedded Learning, Enjoyment in School.

  • Only 2% of parents felt that the academic part of school is the vital part. Overwhelmingly what matters to parents is that their child feels happy and is developing healthily.
  • We asked parents if they would welcome less of a focus on English and Maths test data, and whether Ofsted should put more emphasis on making sure a broad and balanced curriculum is taught in all schools throughout the year. 92% of parents either strongly agreed (72%) or agreed (20%).
  • 67% of parents who responded felt that for Key Stage One play should be the main pedagogical method used to harness learning; so we’ve fed this back to Ofsted stressing that EYFS should be brought up through KS1 rather than the National Curriculum filtering down into the early years. As parents (and we know many teachers agree) we understand the power of play, we need the government and the DfE to value it as much as we all do.
  • An overwhelming 84% said we need to find an alternative to SATs to measure school success. 90% of parents absolutely agreed that we should trust teachers and look beyond just English and maths test data, and that this should be encouraged by Ofsted, through the framework, in encouragement to look beyond core subjects.

The main focus of our report is that there is another way…  a better way, that would allow schools to better reflect the the range standards and variety of learning hoped for by parents and that would support the many, many teachers who want to be trusted to teach their students in creative and diverse ways in order to enable every student to reach their full potential.

An alternative to SATs would be to measure pupils’ learning via ongoing teacher assessment in a range of academic and creative subject areas and to judge a school’s overall performance by an Ofsted Inspection which looked at academic progress, well-being and emotional development in equal measure.

Our message to Ofsted is clear – yes, measure standards and check that standards are high – but be very careful what those standards are, because high standards in happiness, well-being and emotional development mean far more to us as parents than forced high standards in maths, spelling and grammar – and in the long-term the former will help to achieve those high standards – without having to teach to a test.

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