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Ofsted reports are most useful for estate agents, warns independent candidate

Election hopefuls debate value of inspections and testing in schools

26 April, 2018 — By Richard Osley

Emily O’Mara speaking at hustings in Highgate

SCHOOL inspection reports are more useful for estate agents than parents, an independent candidate standing at next week’s council elections claimed on Tuesday evening.

Emily O’Mara said: “Ofsted reports sell houses in an area, because people want to move into an area where schools have an excellent rating. It props up our housing market. And then estate agents are at our school fetes and jumble sales, giving away balloons.”

Ms O’Mara is one of two candidates standing in Highgate ward to increase awareness of housing issues.

She was speaking at a hustings at Highgate Library, organised by Croftdown Residents’ Association, after the panel was asked how schools could advance to outstanding Ofsted ratings.

“There’s a really worrying trend and correlation between house prices and Ofsted, but I don’t think the way we test, and the scrutiny that teachers are put under, has anything to do with a good education,” Ms O’Mara said. Green councillor Sian Berry said: “We don’t place a lot of emphasis on Ofsted result. I’ve been a school governor. I’ve been there when Ofsted come in. It’s a bit random: whether you have a good day. It’s incredibly stressful. “If you get good or outstanding that’s great and you shouldn’t worry about going from good to outstanding too much.”

But Anna Wright, standing for Labour, said: “I agree that the assessment system is not quite right at the moment but I would add a note of caution. Where you have systems with no scrutiny or accountability, and teachers who are entirely free, that may work very well for children who have support and advantage at home but completely fail children who do not. That’s the way it used to be, and let’s not go back to those bad old days.”

Conservative candidate Ben Seifert said: “You have to have testing because you have to have a framework, otherwise you just have a culture of children failing constantly. We have to have a country where everybody has the same opportunity.”

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