Social contract between schools and parents ‘fractured’, watchdog warns

Amanda Spielman has been at the helm of Ofsted for seven years (/PA)
Amanda Spielman has been at the helm of Ofsted for seven years (/PA) Amanda Spielman has been at the helm of Ofsted for seven years (/PA)

Worsening pupil behaviour and high absences suggest a social contract between parents and schools has been fractured, England’s education watchdog is set to warn.

Amanda Spielman, chief inspector of Ofsted, will publish her final annual report on Thursday in a year when the inspectorate has been under the spotlight.

The report – which assesses the state of education and social care in England in the 2022/23 academic year – will suggest the attitudes of some parents are falling out of alignment with those of schools.

The unwritten agreement between schools and families – which sees parents get their children to class daily and respect school rules – has been broken since the pandemic, Ofsted will say.

Schools are noticing more pupil absences than normal on Mondays and Fridays, it will add.

More than a fifth (22.3%) of pupils in England were “persistently absent” – meaning they missed at least 10% of their school sessions – in the 2022/23 academic year, Government figures show.

This is significantly higher than the pre-pandemic rate of 10.9% in 2018/19.

Ofsted will warn that teachers are also having to deal with more disruptive behaviour – such as pupils refusing to do as they are told, talking back to teachers or using social media in class.

Restoring the social contract between schools and parents is vital to sustaining post-pandemic progress, the watchdog will suggest.

Ms Spielman is due to reflect on the challenges and changes she has seen during her seven years at the helm of England’s education watchdog in her final annual report.

It comes as Ofsted has faced calls to revamp its school ratings system – which uses one-word judgments – this year following the death of headteacher Ruth Perry in January.

Ms Perry’s family say she took her own life after an Ofsted report downgraded her Caversham Primary School in Reading from its highest rating to its lowest over safeguarding concerns.

Her death is the subject of an inquest due to start next week.

Academy trust leader Sir Martyn Oliver is set to take over from Ms Spielman as Ofsted’s chief inspector at the start of January.