Ofsted: A Self-Inspection
Ofsted made an important change in October last year by launching unannounced, shorter inspections. This was to combat growing unrest over its reliability, especially in light of the so-called ‘Trojan Horse’ scandal. In an admission of self-doubt, Ofsted have now gone a step further and implemented a new safeguarding policy designed to put to bed internal and external questions over the reliability of their inspections.
Ofsted’s new policy incorporates the short-notice assessment system but now comes with an additional inspection. Two independent Ofsted officials will conduct their inspections at the same school on the same day, corroborate their findings and, together, decide on a rating. The new double inspection system has been implemented with a particular focus on ensuring the validity of the 60% of English schools that were judged ‘Good’ as of October 2014.
The new scheme has received mixed reviews and, although two inspections are likely to produce more accurate results, Dr Mary Bousted, General Secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, believes Ofsted’s solution comes long overdue: "It is incomprehensible that Ofsted has waited 23 years to investigate whether or not its judgments are reliable when the consequences for schools are so devastating if they are judged to be poor.”
Other concerns have been voiced over the considerable amount of pressure teachers and senior leadership teams already face when Ofsted pay a visit. Brian Lightman, General Secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, described how “Inspectors also need to have regards to the already heavy workload that the inspection process creates. Double inspections will inevitably mean more pressure for schools."
As the new double inspection system rolls out, it remains to be seen if Ofsted will finally put to bed accusations of their unreliability or whether the double pressure of two Ofsted visits will skew their results in the opposite direction.