New Ofsted crackdown on schools ‘gaming the system’

The TES is reporting that Ofsted has called on its inspectors to crack down on schools that are “gaming the system” and improving their overall results at the expense of pupils.

Sean Harford, Ofsted’s national director of education, has said that schools are entering large numbers of pupils for inappropriate qualifications, narrowing the curriculum or taking underperforming pupils off the role entirely.

In a letter to inspectors, published today, Mr Harford said: “We would like to remind inspectors of the critical importance of following up any unusual examination entry patterns, to ensure schools have made the right decisions for their pupils…

“We have continued to monitor how well we inspect and report on leadership of the curriculum and, on rare occasions, what is frequently termed as ‘gaming the system’.”

Mr Harford told TES that he was aware that these practices were becoming more common. “The use of them has been increasing quite a lot over the last few years,” he said.

In particular, he said, he was concerned about the following:

  • Schools which enter large numbers of pupils for qualifications that are not core subjects or do not reflect a school’s specialisms. These were “often of a technical or vocational nature not suited to the majority of pupils”; 
  • “Double entry in qualifications that overlap in content. For example, statistics and free-standing mathematics qualifications; GCSE English and IGCSE English as a second language qualifications for pupils who have English as a first language”;
  • Schools which enter pupils for GCSEs in English language and English literature, without teaching the latter properly. Pupils sit the exam purely to ensure that the language result is counted doubly towards Progress 8 scores.

More at: New Ofsted crackdown on schools ‘gaming the system’

Let us know your thoughts in the comments below or on Twitter. ~ Sophie

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  1. Anonymous

    Schools trying to improve their performance data. Ofsted don’t like it. Maybe they should consider why schools are doing it. ‘Hypocrites’ springs to mind. Ofsted that is, not schools.

  2. Mark

    Some top tips here on how to improve results.
    Doesn’t appear to have occurred to them that if you incentivise an outcome heavily, people will find ways to achieve it.

  3. Northern Teacher

    Sounds pretty much what politicians do all the time. They don’t seem to see anything wrong with it!

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