UCL News


Teachers call Ofsted inspections unfair and inaccurate, even in Outstanding or Good schools

2 November 2023

Most teachers from both ‘winning’ and ‘losing’ schools believe that Ofsted inspections do not provide a fair and accurate picture, according to new research led by UCL academics.

Classroom stock photo

The research is part of Beyond Ofsted, an inquiry chaired by Lord Jim Knight into the future of school inspection. 

A survey of 6,708 teachers in England, delivered by academics from the IOE, UCL’s Faculty of Education and Society between March and May 2023, showed that almost two-thirds (62%) of teachers did not think that the outcome of their most recent inspection accurately reflected their school.  

Even in schools rated Good or Outstanding, more than half (58%) of respondents did not think the rating was fair, demonstrating a level of frustration for the inspecting body from all areas of the teaching profession.  

Almost three-quarters (74%) of those surveyed described their experience with Ofsted as negative. This figure rose to 94% among those in the lower categories, but this was also the case for 67% of those who received an Outstanding or Good ranking. Only 10% of these ‘winners’ saw it as a positive experience. 

Concerns about the inspecting body’s effectiveness were further demonstrated by the finding that an overwhelming majority of teachers (92%) from schools across all gradings agreed that Ofsted is not a “reliable and trusted arbiter of standards”.  

Meanwhile, 89% disagreed with the statement that Ofsted inspections are “a valid method of monitoring performance and holding schools to account”. As over 80% of the sample came from Good or Outstanding schools, dissatisfaction with the system is exhibited across the board and not just in schools with lower ratings. 

Beyond Ofsted - An Inquiry into the Future of School Inspection was established to develop a set of principles for underpinning a better inspection system and proposals for an alternative approach. 

Chair Lord Jim Knight commented: “This research has been extremely valuable as we formulate our recommendations. The strength of feeling about the failings of the current system is clearly universal across the teaching profession. Our aim is to identify what is needed to make it fairer and more effective. We look forward to sharing our findings with educators and policymakers.” 

The full report will be launched on 22 November, presenting findings based on focus groups and surveys on what teachers, leaders, parents and governors think about inspection as it currently is, and how it can be improved. 

Lead researcher Professor Jane Perryman (IOE, UCL’s Faculty of Education and Society) said: “We have found that significant reform is needed to the inspection and evaluation systems of English schools, and in our upcoming report, we will be providing recommendations for improvement, partly based on a review of alternative systems such as those used internationally.” 



Credit: hxdbzxy via iStock Image

Media Contact

Tom Cramp

  • E: t.cramp [at] ucl.ac.uk