Who inspects the inspectors? Rate my Ofsted? (updated)

26 Jun

Update: 26 June 2012:

According to the BBC:

"Former head teachers who have had to leave their own schools after they were found to be failing are working as Ofsted inspectors. And a former chief inspector of schools claims some current Ofsted inspectors have no teaching experience at all."

Meanwhile, The Guardian proclaims:

"Headteachers set to fight back over Ofsted inspections Anger over the new Ofsted regime has caused a big increase in complaints by headteachers about their reports. Now some are threatening to throw out inspectors they regard as incompetent."

In one of our many blog posts on Ofsted, Voice General Secretary Philip Parkin commented that "Ofsted has become too broad and unwieldy and has lost its focus":

"Ofsted has been heavily criticised over the years for its methods and practice by everyone from educationalists to MPs and more recently by Plymouth's Local Safeguarding Children Board. It has even been described as 'not fit for purpose'."

We have also pointed out that:

"Stephen Twigg's idea for an evidence-driven Office for Educational Improvement is worthy of very serious consideration if it could help to re-establish the trust and confidence between teachers and politicians that has been lost because of the confrontational and morale-sapping style adopted by Ofsted and the current Secretary of State for Education."

While Ofsted has 'ParentView' (see below) it has no 'TeacherView'.

In a recent poll on this site, "How would you rate Ofsted?", the results were:

  • Outstanding: 0%
  • Good: 3%
  • Satisfactory: 5%
  • 'Requires improvement': 32%
  • Inadequate: 60%

Perhaps Ofsted needs to be reminded of the following passage from the Bible:

"Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?"

How can Ofsted say:

"Let me take the speck out of your eye when all the time there is a plank in your own eye?"

Do let us know your thoughts

Update: 20 October 2011

Now that Parent View (“the chance to tell us what you think about your child's school”) has been launched by Ofsted , it seems that our concerns (below) about potential misuse of the site have been realised. As we feared would be the case, we have found that it is possible to "register" with a made-up e-mail address and a tick in a box marked "parent".

Although the site is supposed to be "Parent" View not "Anonymous View", names and addresses are not required for registration so there is no system in place to check if a site user is a parent or carer.

There is nothing to stop any adult or pupils with a grudge creating a highly negative "view" of a school over and over again, or a school employee repeatedly "strongly agreeing" with all the questions.

Do let us know your views…

Update: 30 September 2011

Ofsted has now launched its draft framework for school inspection from January 2012

  • Parents will be able to comment on schools through an Ofsted website. Ofsted had announced that parents would be invited to answer an online questionnaire without having to identify themselves. It now says the results of these questionnaires on the full range of school performance will be published.
  • The highest rated schools – in the “outstanding” category – will no longer face routine inspections, and will only be visited if results decline or parental concerns prompt an inspection.

Do let us know your views…

18 March 2011:

Next week, Ofsted will launch a 'consultation' on its new inspection framework. Ofsted's remit has become too broad and lacking in proper focus so a less bureaucratic and burdensome system would be welcome.

However, it has been reported that, under the new inspection framework, Ofsted is considering the introduction of a Website portal where parents could lodge concerns about a school’s performance, possibly triggering an inspection or at least a pre-inspection "risk assessment".

While there is nothing wrong in having a formal mechanism for parents to raise serious issues, the informality and anonymity of the proposed system raises concerns.

According to the BBC, parents would "be able to respond anonymously" and "would only need an e-mail address to log their opinions". Chief Inspector Christine Gilbert "acknowledged that the results could easily be skewed either in favour of the school or against it by groups of parents, saying: "'It’s really to give them a sense of what’s happening in a school this is not a scientific model, it’s an impressionistic tool, it’s just another piece of information.'"

While many parents are very supportive of their local school, what's to stop a group of individuals with an agenda, such as setting up a free school or wanting conversion to academy status, trying to undermine the school with spurious complaints? Or what about pupils, with a grudge against a teacher or the head who had disciplined them, or just as a 'prank', posing as parents to log their 'grievances'?

One individual with several real, or countless fake, e-mail addresses could post numerous 'complaints'.

How would an inspector react if they witnessed a teacher giving pupils unchecked, unattributable, inaccurate information they'd found online ("the moon might be made of cheese the earth could be flat . cavemen hunted dinosaurs"), and the teacher justified his/her actions by saying,”Well, it’s really to give them a sense of what’s happening it's not a scientific model, it’s impressionistic, it’s just another piece of information.”

If the chief inspector admits that "results could easily be skewed", how can anyone have confidence in the system? Would Ofsted accept that as an attitude from a school?

Every school has a complaints procedure for parents to follow if they have cause for concern. Schools should always have the opportunity to address parents’ concerns before involving external agencies. This is the normal way of dealing with things – speak to the person or organisation that’s causing you concern. Individuals should have to take responsibility for their own actions and allowing people to hide behind others is not helpful in this type of organisation.

We do not want to end up with “Big Brother Ofsted with its network of informers is watching you".

Ofsted no longer inspects outstanding schools although, under the new framework, they will able to request one in order to confirm their performance, but they might be asked to pay. Exempting outstanding schools from inspection is like giving a car that's passed its MOT exemption from all further tests unless someone reports it for going through a red light. As time passes and the head and staff/driver and pupils/passengers change, so will the school. There's no guarantee that it will remain "outstanding".

On the one hand, we have schools that can escape inspection because they were once, and hopefully remain, 'outstanding' (while the Government and Ofsted close their eyes, cross their fingers, and hope that the school's senior management team doesn't take its eyes off the ball) while on the other, a group of anonymous e-mailers could trigger an inspection, or at least a "risk assessment", at a good school!

While Ofsted are in the online mood, they might like to consider a Web portal where teachers could post comments about Ofsted inspections. 'Rate My Ofsted', perhaps? (No cyberbullying allowed.)

Poll

Should all schools be subject to inspection? (21 March – 4 April 2011)

Results:

  • Yes: 79% (15)
  • No: 21% (4)

If you have further comments or observations, please add them below

21 March 2011

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One Response to “Who inspects the inspectors? Rate my Ofsted? (updated)”

  1. Mona McNee 10. Oct, 2011 at 9:47 am #

    In today’s paper I read that Sir Michael Wilshaw is to head Ofsted.
    Woodhead says Wilshaw “will have to stand up to the teaching unions”.

    This misses the point. Unions should stand up to the LEAs and the central Dept for Education, and teacher training. That’s were the real baddies are!

    I asked Christine Gilbert to put me in touch with a primary inspector near me, and she did not!!
    Will Wilshaw???

    The real baddies are right at the top,highest paid….
    So if any accusations of teacher incompetence are made, now is your chance to point the finger at the real culprits.

    Both DfE and Knowsley LEA saay they will not reply to any more of my emails about literacy.

    I think Woodhead was (and is) a goodie and I think he resigned in despair after 6 years of fighting the real culprits.

    Nobody really cares about the children – or the teachers.

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