It would be easy to mock the chief inspector of schools for her chaotic explanation of the new GCSE grading system in a recent live radio interview with Nick Ferrari on LBC. This followed Nick Gibb’s similar grade-deflating experience a few weeks earlier with the same interviewer – the schools minister’s “8 is a midway point between 9 and 7” being the only moment of true clarity. Tes reports.
Besides, something ground-breakingly good may come from the chief inspector’s interview. By spiralling so publicly down the black hole of grading she may now emerge on the other side with a much brighter and more formative vision. That new vision surely has no more room for grades than it does for Nick Ferrari. She has had enough of the dark side. There will be no more Ofsted grading of schools.
So I am expecting her to announce, any moment, that Ofsted’s troubled relationship with grading is over, that the organisation “no longer wishes to associate itself with such a practice. Grading is a mere shallow and untrustworthy school bully”. All four of those thuggish Ofsted adjectives will be told never to darken its doors again, off to live in exile with the equally brutish 1 to 4 grading system that they ditched a few years earlier. The reform would go happily hand in hand with her stated desire for schools and inspectors to look at the bigger picture. That bigger picture can only come into view when grading is not casting its shadow.
Mere wishful thinking? Look at it from Ofsted’s point of view. Here is surely the opportunity that sensible inspectors must have been craving for. Now is the chance for the chief inspector to release her teams from the burden of always having to reduce everything into a series of glib adjectives. I am car crash certain that inspectors do not whittle down other profound experiences in their life – their work, relationships, children, works of art and so on – into one of four adjectives, so why make them do this when they are in a school?
Rather than have these able observers waste hours on each visit trying to justify the “right” choice of adjectival grade, let them use their time, experience and expertise in a more useful way. Let them focus instead on providing specific and constructive advice where needed.
Read the full article and watch the interview with Amanda Spielman trying to explain the grading system Come on Amanda, ditch the Ofsted grading for schools
Please tell us your thoughts in comments or via Twitter ~ Tamsin
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