Labour is set to scrap Ofsted in a major shake-up of the schools watchdog.
The shadow education secretary Angela Rayner will outline the party’s plan to introduce a two-phase inspection system at the Labour Party conference in Brighton.
Schools and education providers would be subject to regular “health checks” by local government and more in-depth inspections led by Her Majesty’s Inspectors (HMIs) – full-time, trained inspectors.
The HMIs would carry out inspections in response to concerns arising from the regular “health checks” or those raised by parents, teachers and governors – rather than at random.
The party said the system would ensure parents receive the “in-depth and reliable information that they need about our schools” while reducing stress for teachers.
It would also introduce a new statutory definition of a school, and crack down on an estimated 500 illegal schools which fall outside the current inspection system.
Ms Rayner said: “In too many cases, Ofsted’s judgments and grades reflect the affluence of a school’s intake and the social class of its pupils – not the performance of the school.
“School performance is far too important and complex to be boiled down to an over-simplified single grade, reducing all schools to one of four categories.
“The current system is unfit for purpose, so the next Labour government will abolish Ofsted and replace it with a system that will give parents the reliable and in-depth information that they need about our schools.”
However, Minister of State for Schools, Nick Gibb, blasted the idea as “yet another sign of the extreme left-wing ideological drift that Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party has taken”.
“Labour are clearly intent on reversing the huge improvements that have been seen, particularly for the most disadvantaged children, by ending academies and free schools,” Mr Gibb said. “Now they want to stop parents having even the most basic information so that they can make informed choices about their children’s schools.
“It’s crystal clear – you can’t trust Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party with education.”
Labour said if they enter government, the party will also launch a “school improvement revolution” with a nationwide, school-led peer review improvement programme.
Ms Rayner added: “The current Ofsted regime labels and ranks schools but it doesn’t help them improve. Labour will improve standards in our schools and we will do it through collaboration, not competition.
“The next Labour government will launch a school improvement revolution, introducing a new system of peer-to-peer school-led improvement – based on the success of Labour’s hugely successful London Challenge – right across the country.”
Ofsted’s chief inspector Amanda Spielman said: “Ofsted has been standing up for the interests of children and parents for over a quarter of a century. It’s a cause that inspires everyone who works here.
“In my time so far as chief inspector we have supported children in challenging circumstances through our work tackling illegal schools and off-rolling, and we have shifted the emphasis in education from a narrow focus on exam results onto the real substance of what children are taught in schools.
“This work must continue. So we’ll keep on raising standards in education through our new model of inspection and we’ll continue to keep the most vulnerable in society safe, through our regulation of children’s social care services across England.”
Dr Mary Bousted, joint general secretary of the National Education Union, welcomed the announcement.
“Ofsted has been a force for lowering school standards by driving teachers from the profession,” she said.
“Tens of thousands of hardworking, competent and professional school leaders and teachers have given up the profession, defeated and worn down by excessive workload and stress caused by trying to second guess what the latest Ofsted ‘fad’ is.”