Yes, Ofsted requires improvement – but it can be a powerful force for good

Her Majesty’s Inspectorate took a bit of a battering from the Public Accounts Committee last week but I am probably more sympathetic to Ofsted than many. Being a parent (and governor) in one of the first schools to be inspected in the early 1990s was a formative experience that led me to writing and campaigning on education issues. The Guardian reports.

I have since been involved in more than 10 inspections at different schools. The outcomes have ranged from very good to very bad, but painful as they may have been, all were a broadly accurate reflection of each school’s performance at the time, and some prompted necessary radical change.

Nevertheless, Ofsted has never been loved, and the relationship between schools and the inspectorate took a sharp turn for the worse in the Gove years, when the link between inspections and pointless, career ending, forced academisation was introduced.

The subsequent mistrust and fear further soured the perception of Ofsted, exacerbating a culture of fear and driving negative behaviour in some leaders. Teacher recruitment and retention problems, especially in the most deprived communities where, unsurprisingly, schools tend to fare less well in inspections, cannot be divorced from this.

Ofsted wields enormous power which, used negatively, can be destructive, but used positively could create possibilities. So, when the word went out that the current chief inspector, Amanda Spielman, was considering downgrading “exam factory” schools and shifting the definition of outcomes away from test and exam results to a richer and broader definition of education quality, my heart lifted.

This summer’s GCSEs look almost farcical with hindsight. They were made harder to inject more rigour; then the exam regulator rearranged the grade boundaries to ensure the results looked the same as before. We have ended up where we started while creating unprecedented stress and alienation amongst teachers and students. What was the point?

Read the full article Yes, Ofsted requires improvement – but it can be a powerful force for good

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

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