December 11, 2023

We believe passionately that education can transform lives. It is why we are proud to sponsor the Laidlaw Schools Trust in the North East, not just in name but with our time, resources and funding.

88% of all schools are judged to be good or outstanding by Ofsted. Yet education is simply not working for too many young people today. Absence is up by more than 50% since 2019 and persistent absence has more than doubled. A third of children do not pass their English and Maths GCSE; for disadvantaged children, this figure rises to more than half. Teachers are leaving the profession in droves and employers routinely complain that workers do not have the necessary skills and capabilities.

There is clearly a disconnect, compounded by the fact that the pressure of Ofsted inspections can have terrible unintended consequences for curriculum narrowing, teacher retention and staff wellbeing. Whenever the teaching profession points this out, we are told that the public overwhelmingly depends on the insight the current inspection regime delivers. So we commissioned a report to investigate this. We wanted to know for what parents and carers really thought schools should be held accountable.

The report’s authors, Public First, carried out polling and moderated focus groups of teachers and educationalists to explore what schools should focus on, prioritise and measure. Their findings and recommendations for how we can re-think school accountability to provide an education that fosters healthy, confident and productive citizens is detailed in the following report.

We think the proposals are compelling economically and as an issue of social justice. We cannot go on in a world where much of the wonderful diversity and character-building benefits of a rich co-curricular offer are too often limited to independent schools, state schools that service middle-class catchments and those, like ours, that belong to one of the few Multi Academy Trusts with a philanthropic sponsor. We hope you agree and will join us in advocating for the recommendations to be implemented.