Need to know: Independent school inspections under scrutiny

Tes reports that most independent schools don’t have to answer to Ofsted – but their own inspectorate does. And in some cases, private school inspection reports are overlooking failings, Ofsted has warned

The watchdog charged with overseeing standards in many of England’s top public schools has faced criticism for the way it has presented inspection findings.

What is the criticism all about?

Ofsted prepares a report for the education secretary about how some of these other inspectorates – including the ISI – have carried out their work.

For a report on the ISI, published last week, Ofsted looked at a sample of 11 inspection reports produced by the inspectorate in 2016-17. It found that two of these reports gave schools a clean bill of health – despite finding leadership and management failings. 

Because inspectors failed to reflect these failings in their overall judgements, the ISI flouted its own guidance, according to Ofsted.

How has the ISI responded?

The ISI has declined to comment on Ofsted’s findings.  

It’s important to remember that problems were only found in two inspection reports; the ISI carried out 415 inspections in the year concerned. But Ofsted was only able to get hold of 11 reports, and carried out just two on-site visits of schools that had been inspected by the ISI. 

A spokesperson for Ofsted told Tes that it “has not done routine on-site quality assurance monitoring of ISI since 2015-16”, but did not expand on whether it would like this to change.

A move to scrutinise the inspectorate’s work more closely may not be welcomed by the ISI or the schools it inspects, which value their independence.

Read the full article Need to know: Independent school inspections under scrutiny

Should Ofsted be more involved with independent school inspections? Do you work at an independent school, how would you feel about more involvement  from Ofsted? Please tell us your thoughts in comment or via Twitter ~ Tamsin

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  1. Alan O'Sullivan

    The reality is that there has never been a level playing field in terms of quality of inspection across both Independent and State sectors. The other reality is that HMI inspection should be no-notice to show how the school typically operates rather than providing enough time to manipulate e.g. the farming out of weaker teachers to other schools within Federations; the naughtiest children kept away from duration of inspection.

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