Let more heads from deprived areas inspect schools, Ofsted told

Ofsted should loosen its rules to allow more headteachers working in deprived schools to become inspectors, according to the leader of the biggest corporate-sponsored academy chain in England. Tes reports.

Frank Norris, who leads Co-op Academies Trust based in Manchester and has held senior roles at Ofsted, said inspectors cannot effectively judge schools in disadvantaged areas unless they have led one themselves.

In an interview with Tes, Mr Norris said this rule excluded headteachers he knew whose experience of working in deprived communities would make them well-suited to be inspectors.

He said: “I do have a problem with context. When you’re an outlier, where you have 70 different languages being spoken in your academy as we do in our secondary academy in Leeds, the context of that community is probably beyond most headteachers’ comprehension.  

“So not decrying the people who are drawn in to work for Ofsted, but actually if they are drawn primarily from outstanding and good schools, the chances are that there not going to be working in deprived areas like Harehills or Burmantofts, in Leeds.”

Mr Norris also told Tes that, during his time with Ofsted, he came up with the idea for calling the best-rated schools “outstanding”.

He said: “We saw ‘outstanding’ at that time as something you would travel 20 miles to go and see it – it was not something that was going to be two a penny.

“So these were the beacons of excellence that would in effect be a centre of excellence for a town or a region.”

But he also felt it was important for Ofsted to be able to inspect such schools in order to see best practice and spread it throughout the system.

Read more Let more heads from deprived areas inspect schools, Ofsted told

Do you agree with him? Please tell us your thoughts in comments or via Twitter ~ Tamsin

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  1. Mark Simmons

    V good point about the meaning of ‘Outstanding’ – as we have it it seems mostly to serve as shorthand for privileged.

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