TWO leading educationalists from Stroud are calling for Ofsted to be replaced.
Dr Richard House and Richard Brinton were appalled by the education watchdog’s recent treatment of the region’s Steiner schools, including an across the board ‘inadequate’ rating given to Wynstones School back in May.
Wynstones is located on the outskirts of Gloucester, and has many pupils from Stroud.
The pair penned an open letter to Ofsted head, Amanda Speilman saying the inspectorate is ‘not fit for purpose’.
Their letter, which was published in The Independent, has been signed by over 50 educationalists and allied professionals, including the former Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams, the former chief commissioner for schools Sir Tim Brighouse, along with more than a dozen professors of education.
They call for Ofsted to be replaced with a more “supportive” inspectorate that does not “punish, bully and publicly humiliate”.
Although the letter challenges Ofsted’s treatment of Steiner schools and accuses it of attacking the alternative education system, Dr House says a fundamental change is needed in how all schools in England are supported.
Dr House, a psychologist and a trained Steiner teacher, who has been writing critically on education for several decades said: “The tick box system doesn’t fit with the philosophy of Rudolph Steiner, which is to nurture creative, free thinking people.
“Families who have deliberately chosen a Steiner school for their children precisely in order to escape the ‘creative desert’ that is testing-obsessed mainstream schooling beloved of the audit culture are deeply distressed about their chosen schools being deemed “inadequate” by an organisation that is not remotely equipped to make such judgements.
Mr Brinton, a writer, author and contributor to journals on creative and holistic parenting, added: “Steiner schools have a fundamentally different ethos and pedagogy from mainstream schooling, the subtlety and depth of which Ofsted’s managerialist approach is distinctly ill-equipped to comprehend, let alone assess.”
An Ofsted spokesperson said: “Ofsted has a duty to report as we find and we inspect all schools on their individual merits.
“We have recently judged some Steiner schools to be good, but at a number of schools we found that the leadership was not fit for purpose and staff were not addressing risks to pupils’ welfare.
“In the worst cases, inspectors witnessed inappropriate physical handling of children and a failure to make appropriate referrals to the local authority when pupils were clearly at risk of harm. In short, the findings of our inspections of these schools are well founded and fair, and we stand by our judgements.
“For context, Ofsted has published inspection reports for 23 independent Steiner schools and academies.
“These are the overall judgements: five schools were judged to be good; seven were judged to require improvement; 11 schools were judged to be inadequate.”
Wynstones School declined to comment.