Education watchdog Ofsted is planning to crack down on schools that spend thousands of pounds of public money to unfairly boost their ratings. Currently, schools are spending tax payer’s money on recruiting Ofsted inspector to pre-view their school before an actual inspection to help them prepare and gain a higher rating when the real inspection takes place.
As of September, Ofsted inspectors will be banned from taking up lucrative freelance work aka. ‘moonlighting’. The Department for Education said it would stamp out Headteachers using school funds to employ consultants to improve ratings. Ofsted have stated that this is going to be done in a bid to gain a true representation on how schools are performing.
A spokeswomen for the education standards watchdog stated that “Ofsted has repeatedly said we don’t expect, or want, schools to prepare for inspections. Schools should do nothing other than focus on providing a good education”. Yet schools are believed to spending around £600 a day on inspectors to help head teachers prepare for their Ofsted inspections. These inspectors then will carry out a ‘Mocksted’, this is where the inspector will carry out a mock inspection and give the head teacher feedback on where the school needs to improve.
But what effect do these additional inspections have on the teachers? A survey found that 62% of teachers believed that preparing for an Ofsted/Mocksted inspection significantly increased their already daunting workload.
Christine Blower, General Secretary of the NUT recently claimed that “Mocksteds are becoming a common characteristic of schools across the board, regardless of Ofsted ranking”. Some Teaching Unions have voiced their concerns that schools carrying out ‘Mocksteds’ are misleading parents and Ofsted about the true quality of the school, by covering up the schools problems for the inspection. This occurred in Birmingham last year where several schools had been originally judged as ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted, only to be reassessed as failing once evidence arose that the schools were not safeguarding their pupils from extremism.
More and more companies are now carrying out these mock inspections around the UK, offering schools a range of services from just lesson observations to full preparation for inspections. One company offering these services said it offers “personalised packages of days involving in-school support, training and guidance designed to prepare you and your staff for your up-coming Ofsted inspection”.
These changes come at a time where the Department for Education looks to identify and challenge Britain’s ‘coasting schools’. A wide set of reforms will be introduced as of September in a bid to improve and detect any ‘coasting schools’. One of the reforms aims to introduce shorter but more frequent Ofsted inspections for any school rated as ‘good’ by Ofsted.
What do you think? Should schools be able to carry out these ‘mocksteds’? Or are the Department for Education doing the right thing stopping schools from spending tax payer’s money on carrying out pre-tests?