‘Nine changes that would prove Ofsted is REALLY listening’

So Amanda Spielman, Her Majesty’s chief inspector, is “listening to teachers”. The headline could be seen as extraordinary. Is this really a first acknowledgment of decades of disregard, even disdain, shown by the inspection service towards those who competently and expertly lead and represent the profession? A headteacher writes in Tes.
There are more than half a million expert educators working in England’s schools and colleges, across every possible phase and setting. And, at long last, it is just possible that our informed professional voice will be heard. The fear is that the listener has already decided what she wants to hear.

It is time, indeed well beyond time, to bring an end to the unreliable and indefensible practice of reducing inspection findings to a single numerical point on a four-point scale. The case to stop this damaging approach is reasoned and compelling. Ofsted has not offered any internal, let alone international, evidence to demonstrate that institutional evaluation is best undertaken in this way.
If Ofsted is listening, then inspectors must stop passing the blame for the consequences of their own previous inspection behaviours. It is time to recognise how a pre-occupation with outcome data and headline measures, regardless of context, has been the catalyst for “off-rolling”. It is time to roll back from the absurd insistence on the EBacc as an appropriate model of provision for the majority of pupils.

If Ofsted is listening, then we can look forward to the inspectorate exercising its independent voice to castigate a government that has overseen the fiscal mutilation of provision – for the most vulnerable, including SEND learners, especially, but also across the shire counties, where minimal funding levels have fallen below anything that might be deemed sustainable.

The proposed new framework made no reference to funding or resources, despite the fact that leadership capacity, curriculum breadth, provision of CPD, sustained subject leadership, the learning environment, teacher workload and pupil/staff wellbeing are all detrimentally impacted by insufficient per-pupil income.

There are nine expert tests that can be used rationally to assess any school evaluation process. If Ofsted were really listening then we could look forward to inspection that:

  • is developed with principles, values and evidence that have extensive professional consensus;
  • recognises, affirms and promotes progressive school improvement;
  • is conducted in a manner that enhances the recruitment and retention of school teachers and leaders;

Which of those nine tests will the new framework meet?
It’s time to offer our pupils a sense of value and purpose in their education that goes far beyond educating for “life in modern Britain” or reasserting those ill-conceived and artificial “fundamental British values” that still feature in Ofsted’s expectations. 

Read the remaining tests and decide whether they can ever be met  ‘Nine changes that would prove Ofsted is REALLY listening’

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

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