This could be the shortest blog post in the history of the internet…

Ofsted Inspections: Do they have any benefits?

No.

The End

That might be harsh, controversial and an incredibly biased view- but you can bet your bottom dollar that thousands of teachers up and down the country would agree wholeheartedly with it. And here’s why…

Is Ofsted fit for purpose?

Again, the short answer is ‘No.’ Nobody working in education would argue against there being checks and balances in schools. No school leaders are claiming that there shouldn’t be any accountability. However, Ofsted inspections and the reports that follow from it are inherently flawed. The argument that Ofsted actually brings about school improvement is a highly debatable one too.

The problem with the culture of target-driven inspection and measurement is that it naturally results in schools ‘jumping through the hoops’. The same could be said for other areas of the public sector: the police and hospitals, for example. It becomes all about achieving an education floor target, an arrest target, or an A&E waiting time.

How is Ofsted failing schools? 

A glance through headlines over the last few years will reveal a disturbing picture of Ofsted’s

failings. There are been several claims of inaccurate and inconsistent Ofsted gradings. There are have been stories of inspectors who have highly disrespectful in their communication with schools and who are poorly qualified. They have become the butt of jokes in some schools:

Have you heard the one about what a headteacher of a failing school does next?

Become an Ofsted inspector.

Ofsted have been accused of having a narrow and far too formulaic view of teaching. It has even been cited as one of the major (perhaps the major) reasons why school improvement has stagnated. A risk-averse approach by schools means that the fear of ‘being Ofsted-ed’ and receiving the dreaded lunchtime call seems to ever-present.

Is the criticism fair?

Well, yes – it is. However, there are always two sides to every story and of each coin. Most Ofsted inspectors are highly dedicated professionals who really do want to bring about school improvement. To its credit, Ofsted has changed and tried to evolve over the years.

Having said that, most school leaders would argue that it is Ofsted’s continual ‘changing of the goalposts’ that is a major part of the problem.

The fact that Ofsted feels the need to publish Ofsted inspections: myths shows how schools can be guilty of misinterpreting or misunderstanding what Ofsted are looking for.’

Having said that, the irony of Ofsted saying that some schools place a far too narrow focus on exam grades – when it is exactly this that they are judged on by Ofsted – is frankly laughable.

Nobody is trying to suggest that devising a model for school accountability and inspection is easy. However, it is clear that there are far too many flaws in the current system. The benefits of Ofsted inspections, if there are any, are far outweighed by the negatives.

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