Ofsted’s ‘coasting’ inspectors

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It seems schools are not the only ones being assessed by Ofsted. Ofsted’s inspectors have been under the microscope and four in ten have been found to be ‘below par’. The results of these assessments have led to Ofsted firing 1,200 school and college inspectors.

Sir Michael Wilshaw, the Head of Ofsted, announced last year that Ofsted would no longer use “additional inspectors”. The idea behind this is to try and improve the consistency and bring inspections in-house. Ofsted previously had been using approximately 3,000 additional inspectors, contracted in via inspection service providers. Sir Robin Bosher, Ofsted’s Head of Quality and Training stated that one of the key reasons for showing the door to so many of these inspectors was their lack of skill in writing reports, an area that has been a source of concern for many schools across England.

Last October it emerged that a senior school inspector had been accused of inappropriate copy and pasting in his reports, leading to him to be one of the first to be shown the door. If senior figures in Ofsted are doing this, this cause doubt for the rest of the inspectors and their reports? Sir Robin explained that he was confident that the new approach would calm head teachers fears over quality and consistency and that his absolute aim is to have the highest quality inspectors possible… But what about the schools they inspected? What now?

The dismissal of so many school inspectors led to key authority figures speaking out such as the NAHT general secretary Russell Hobby believes so, claiming that if “you look back, for the last few years we’ve been inspected by a group where 40% of inspectors weren’t up to the job”. After all these inspections can decide the future path of a school. Dr Mary Boustead general secretary of the ATL union said “it is unacceptable that these inspectors have been judging school quality – and coming to conclusions which, too often, lack validity and reliability”. All of this comes after education secretary has slammed “coasting schools” stating that any school not rated ‘good’ or ‘excellent’ by Ofsted facing being turned into academies. Will this still be carried out now that Ofsted’s inspectors have been found to be below standards themselves?

Sir Robin has said that Ofsted stand by the ratings given out by previous inspectors over the past few years. Yet how can this be the case with almost 40% of inspectors being deemed not good enough? Surely this means that 40% of reports are not valid? What do you think? What should Ofsted do now? Should schools below the ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’ grade have the threat of being turned into an academy still? Or should they be reviewed once again when the inspectors are of appropriate quality? Have your say…

12 thoughts on “Ofsted’s ‘coasting’ inspectors

  1. Ofsted has not axed coasting inspectors. It has carried out a brutal and ignorant restructuring of its inspection force to increase the number of headteachers, irrespective of merit. As one of those axed after twenty years of excellent work put it to me, “they don’t care whether you’re a good inspector or not.” One who survived the cull was no more complimentary. Sir John Bosher is a smirking thug who should be ashamed of himself. I’ve posted on this here http://johnbald.typepad.com/language/2015/06/ofsteds-machine-gun.html

  2. Given that significant numbers of teachers have been pushed out of their jobs when their schools became academies, should the unions be looking at the possibility of taking legal action for loss of earnings for these staff, if the inspection quality is suspect?

  3. This just confirms what many ‘good’ teachers had always suspected. I myself and many of my colleagues have personally had very very suspect inspectors telling teachers left right and centre that their lessons were not good enough and at the same time declare the lessons of many unscrupulous members of senior management that their lessons were a beacon of light etc etc. And the government wonders why there is a shortage of good teachers in many subjects.

  4. I work at a school that was given a 3 by Ofsted. It had always been an extremely popular local school and was oversubscribed every year and had previously been judged Outstanding. It provides outstanding extra-curricular activities and has a well above average value-added score. Since getting a 3 we have been through 3 headmasters, are under-subscribed and have lost over 60% of the teaching staff. What was for 100 years the local school of choice has become an academy on the brink of collapse because of one Osted report.

  5. This news confirms what many have suspected for a long time. The old saying, “Those who can, do; those who can’t do, teach; those who can’t teach, teach others to teach” with the addition of “Those who can’t teach others to teach, become Ofsted inspectors” seems appropriate. I suggest that any school that feels it has suffered from an inspection carried out by a ‘below par’ inspector leading or contributing to what must therefore be a ‘below par’ report make a Freedom of Information request to Ofsted to find out if this was the case. Appropriate action can then be considered.

  6. My school got inspected by one of these additional inspectors and we went from Good to special measures in 2 years. It resulted in the school being closed with the loss of all staff. Will it now be challenged by anyone. I doubt it. Head teachers are not willing to stand and fight, why? Academies, the privatisation of education by the back door. Come on headteachers, get your heads above the parapet.

  7. The entire inspection process should be phased out, starting with cutting back on inspectors immediately. Schools and teachers should be granted the autonomy they deserve to run their own learning environments; and instead of being constantly under threat of not being up to standard, they should be supported through the resources such as more teachers to give the students the attention they require: Studies have shown that the number one factor in achieving student success is the teacher-student ration.
    Inspections are largely artificial and heavily slanted by the respctive prejudices of the inspectors. Put the money saved by eradicting the inspection system back into the classrooms. The world has gone crazy on all this testing and accountability nonsense: It doesn’t really work, because one has to go back to the source to solve the issue.

  8. It has been clear ever since ofsted was set up that different teams gave different results. Many judgements have been made on perceptions. Very few inspectors I have met were able to really see what was going on within a school. These generally were those employed directly by ofsted. The others often had an vested interest in making sure the gravy train continued. I am glad that inspectors are to be employed directly again. The validity of previous inspections will of course be upheld by ofsted even when it was blatantly unfair or biased.
    We obviously need to have inspectors making sure schools are fit for purpose but too often in the past they were heavy handed and were feared. I hope that we can get back to the situation where there is a professional discussion with management which is helpful rather than purely judgemental.

  9. If 40% of teachers at a school were judged to be below standard the school would immediately be placed into special measures. Will Ofsted therefore be placed into similar restrictions and come under the same sort of scrutiny? I very much doubt it. The phrase “double standards” springs to mind.

  10. While there is the truth of experience behind all of these comments, I don’t think abolishing Ofsted is the answer. From 2005, people were appointed to the inspectorate without enough experience to do the job properly – typically middle or junior rather than senior managers – and the salaries were cut so that they were earning half as much as the people they were inspecting. This had a effect on quality. The two inspectors I cited above are top flight people who have been welcomed into people’s classrooms for their expertise and professional cordiality. There is a need for a reform of Ofsted, to return it to HMI principles values. HMI culture, as they liked to put it themselves. I became really disillusioned with them when I heard an over-confident HMI tell an SLT “We haven’t got time to inpsect teaching, we have to go on what you say.” That way lies tyranny, and Sir J Bosher.

  11. As I have always suspected the hidden agenda of past and present governments have deliberately massaged facts to suit an agenda.
    The removal of 1,200 OFTED inspectors for coasting is a lame but convenient excuse to remove what may be seen as agent provocateurs. These are the same that marked down qualified teachers tutors and educational departments for ideological and sinister reasons.
    It is time to remove education away from all government interference. Education is too precious to be manipulated.

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