The incessant Ofsted demand for evidence and data is destroying teacher autonomy

All was well in education utopia, outstanding they said. The great god OFSTEDSTYN had spoken! They no longer want teachers and managers to work themselves into an early grave! The Provoked Pedagogue  writes in Teachwire

OFSTEDSTYN is a lovely, caring, non-political quango; a perfect omnipotent master. Who wouldn’t want them checking if schools are spending money right? Outstanding!

All was well, but then, the appeaseable, but equally omnipotent demigod DATA rears its ugly head.

“Yes, it is a lovely school. Yes, the learners certainly seem engaged. Yes, the teachers certainly seem to be providing well-planned lessons. Yes, children seem to be making progress. But, the quartiles,” DATA groans. “Quartile four.”

The charade unravels at breakneck speed and it all hinges on one simple phrase: “How do you know that….”.

Data drops are without doubt one of the contributing factors to the trigger for an inspection. And one thing that causes this is the convergence of the quartiles data. This effect I dub the Govian Narrowing, in honour of the guy who stated that ‘all schools could become better than average’.

I have created a very simplistic but surprisingly accurate graph that demonstrates this effect with more clarity:

So, since 2010, schools have become more and more adept at gaming these quartiles. With the government diktat that all schools must be ‘better than average’, what’s happened is that the difference between what’s reported to the great god DATA and the reality has become more and more divorced.

I am pretty confident you can find this effect cross phase. It has got to the point at the school in which I work, that it is impossible to hit the KS3 quartile target.

This is due to the fact, that there are enough non-attenders on roll and that those kids carry enough percentage weighting to ensure that no department will have enough learners to meet the level 5+ target for the quartile we are in.

Read the full article The incessant Ofsted demand for evidence and data is destroying teacher autonomy

Please tell us your thoughts in comments or via Twitter ~ Tamsin

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  1. It is a sad fact that the very mechanism that is set up to provide quality assurance and accountability goes to extreme lengths, often destroying the very thing which it set out to achieve! There is no doubt that Ofsted stand for ensuring all children and young people have access to a good or outstanding education, but what is that measured against? And why don’t individual experiences count? My experience within SEND is very mixed; I believe more can be done to help those with SEND and more training needs to be provided for all teachers (who incidentally have full responsibility for those with SEND) in order to differentiate and personalise their teaching.

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