Ofsted chief inspector Amanda Spielman says the focus on performance data has narrowed what is taught in schools.
She said, in a speech in Newcastle on Thursday, inspections hadplaced too much weight on exam results.
Teachers and heads have long argued education watchdog Ofsted’s focus on data, along with school league tables, has made schools “exam factories”.
Chris Keates, leader of the Nasuwt teachers’ union, said teachers would welcome plans to “shift the focus of inspection and treat teachers as experts, rather than data managers”.
But the National Association of Head Teachers warned against changes being “rushed through” without adequate consultation with school leaders.
The proposals are likely to make it easier for inspectors to recognise the good work done by schools in challenging circumstances.
In her speech to the Schools NorthEast summit, acknowledged that the current inspection model had led to “excessive workload” in some schools.
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“For a long time, our inspections have looked hardest at outcomes, placing too much weight on test and exam results when we consider the overall effectiveness of schools,” she said.
“The cumulative impact of performance tables and inspections, and the consequences that are hung on them, has increased the pressure on school leaders, teachers and indirectly on pupils to deliver perfect data above all else.
“But we know that focusing too narrowly on test and exam results can often leave little time or energy for hard thinking about the curriculum, and in fact can sometimes end up making a casualty of it.