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Changes to Ofsted

Discussion in 'Ofsted inspections' started by angieHT, Jul 11, 2010.

  1. This forum has often been the host to some passionate views on Ofsted, often backed up with stories which sometimes indicate an injustice in the judgment that was made, or more often reveal the emotional damage that the process has caused to individuals.

    This last point is not to be underestimated. Most teachers who enter the profession are sentient, conscientious individuals, and the blunt, impersonal, judgmental manner of inspections can leave a lasting scar on one's professional outlook.

    Now that Christine Gilbert is stepping down from the HMCI role we can expect changes - hopefully improvements - to the inspection process. It isn't realistic to suggest that schools shouldn't be inspected. As long as they use public money they will remain accountable for how this money is used. Even though it is implied that the new academies won't be inspected, it just means that, as for other schools judged as outstanding, that inspections will be less frequent, and backed up by monitoring and watching the data on the school.

    We know that the new government's intention is to slim the inspection process to looking at standards. The other areas are more about compliance, and there are less intrusive ways to monitor these. What the profession says about this is important because even these forums are read by minister's research assistants and our voice can make a differnce.

    I would welcome a greater emphasis at looking at teaching and its impact. Currently headteachers are expected to be able to rate every teacher's teaching, but we know that this is slightly hit and miss in many schools. There should be more emphasis at looking at the impact of teaching over time. Spot observations should count as exemplication rather than use one lesson to judge the whole of a teacher's professional worth. To achieve this, schools need to be encouraged to do more systematic joint observations to a standard set of criteria.

    Schools should be encouraged to undertake self-evaluation in place of inspections and to publish their findings annually. To do this there needs to be clear responsibilities on the SLT and at subject leadership level. One member of SLT ought to be Ofsted trained and middle manager's job specs should include the monitoring of standards and teaching in their area.

    Schools that can demonstrate that they are in control of their own standards need not be inspected. All that is needed is to verify their findings. If this was to happen then schools would have little fear of Ofsted. I am sure that a move in this direction would be welcomed by most schools.

  2. Now, angieHT<font size="3">, who sounds like the voice of Ofsted, says that Ofsted will change and that from now on it will be nice and professional. Who is going to believe that?</font><font size="3">For many years now Ofsted has been bullying and abusing teachers and robbing them of their professional pride and responsibility.</font><font size="3">It has promoted bad leadership in school. It has allowed and even encouraged school leaders to advance their own careers by unleashing their worst instinct on many committed, good but defenceless teachers. </font><font size="3">Ofsted has destroyed the creative and innovation in our schools. </font><font size="3">It has failed to improve the standards of our schools. Most schools now are like zombies. They will not become worse perhaps but because of Ofsted they will not become much better either. Because of Ofsted the education system is stuck in a situation that can only be </font><font size="3">Even if Ofsted was scrapped today the damage that it has done to our education system will take years to be undone. </font><font size="3">Ofsted is beyond repair. It has to be dismantle. </font><font size="3">Moreover, we teachers need to create an association to prevent things like Ofsted tfrom happening again. It has been seen that we teachers have no voice to defend or profession. Therefore we need to create an association of teachers that safeguards and improves the standard of the professions.</font>

  3. I have spent time as an inspector over a long period of time working with headteachers, but I don't speak for Ofsted. The argument that is being made here, for membership of a professional body that will assure standards, is a fruitful one, but one would need to be set up.

    The GTC, which will now disappear, didn't really function in a way that would remove the need for an inspection body. The unions speak for members but do not lead on professional quality issues. The NCLSCS is little more than a training and accreditation body, and the NPQH doesn't extend far enough into the area of quality assurance. It is a qualification for the system that we have now.

    It is unlikely that the government will set up a new body having just dismantled one that might have fulfilled this role, but it has said that it will reform Ofsted's role. They have stated that it will put more of a focus on teaching and standards, so that suggests that it will focus on schools that are not outstanding, and inspectors will spend longer in schools and see more teaching.

    This could cause more stress, which is why I was suggesting that there should be leadership role specifically for school standards - to take the pressure off teachers during an inspection by collecting the information they need over time in a stress-free way. There should be a specific responsibility for school standards on the SLT and training should be provided.
    Schools have many different schemes for looking at lessons and most of them are too superficial to be of any value. A school-friendly version of the Ofsted inspection schedule and a proforma report that schools could complete themselves annually would provide a very reasonable route forward.

    If this was the system that operated now the last contributor may not have felt a need to write in such angry terms.
  4. I believe there are three basic issues with the current OFSTED inspection process:
    <ol>[*]Rather than confirm that schools comply with the advice and interpretation of government guidelines etc that are provided by the school's LA, OFSTED uses its own interpretation. No quality assurance process in industry is so absurd. If the advice a school gets from the appropriate advisors is wrong this shouldn't count against a school.
    [*]The class observation process suffers from the inevitable problems associated with small samples under exceptional (and stressful) circumstances. No-one would use QA process in industry when the manufacturing line knows in advance when quality checks will occur. The current observation process does attempt to validate HT/SLT observation skills but an OFSTED report should then report statistics on all the lesson observations by SLT and an analysis of the feedback they gave and its effectiveness - not that from the inspectors checks.
    [*]The scope and emphasis OFSTED has strayed from 'teaching and learning'. Most parents give a lower priority to:
    • The extent to which pupils adopt healthy lifestyles
    • The extent to which pupils contribute to the school and wider community
    • The extent of pupils' spiritual, moral, social and cultural development
    • The effectiveness of partnerships in promoting learning and well-being
    • The effectiveness with which the school promotes community cohesion
  5. I agree that the list of things inspected is now too long. They have watered down the main purpose of schools - to provide effective learning - with too many things that are just about compliance. These can be dealt with seperately to an inspection to look at standards of teaching and learning. It is also plain stupid if an overall judgment on a school is brought down by some issue like not having a proper policy on community cohesion.

    The suggestions in this discussion are good ones, but I dispair of the present coalition government doing anything in education that is sensible. Their proposals for privatising schools or building unnecessary new ones are the ideas of a mad, destructive bigot. Their ideas on changing back to a Victorian curriculum would be laughable if they weren't true.

    But they haven't pronounced on Ofsted yet. Maybe they will do something sensible. But on present form I would expect them to have inspectors checking to see that kids are holding their quills properly and that everyone is teaching British history.

    As to teachers, they want to remove national pay scales and push all those city chaps who have lost their jobs into teaching, i.e. reduce the professionalism of teachers and weaken their voice. I also don't trust them when they offer the bribe of not being inspected if you become a 'free' school. Once we find what their future holds for us we will look back on Ofsted with fondness. At least I can say I didn't vote for them.
  6. OAS


    Having worked in aa FE college in Liverpool for the past 10 years I cannot contain my contempt for the inspection process any longer - my colleagues and I have watched with dismay at departments who have received outstanding for their provision when we have seen appalling practices such as; one hour breaks for a two hour teaching session, students with additional support needs left in corridors unattended during these long breaks. The sooner that the inspectors implement no-notice inspections the sooner we shall see more truly reflective grading. Inspectors who actually are not hood winked by the stomach churning grovelling would be a revelation. Isn't also about time that the standard of teaching within further education colleges was standardised - comparative to the requirements of compulsory education.
  7. zinzan

    zinzan New commenter

    OK OAS. No-notice inspections are under discussion. Parents and some teachers are in favour, but many heads not. Ofsted have mixed feelings. Issues over data provision, self assessment, staff and learner holidays etc might make this difficult, but not insurmountable. I'm in favour of them

    Regarding the point over your colleagues, why does that lead to contempt for the inspection process? Is there no feedback from learners or colleagues to support your points. What about the internal quality assurance process?

    If your friend drives home p.ssed every weekend it's not the fault of the police. Its about taking responsibility
  8. It is interesting that nobody other than myself has written on this forum in support of greater self-regulation. It could be made to work if standardised procedures were introduced and training provided for staff with specific responsibilities for quality assurance.

    It doesn't have to be inspection or self-regulation either. It can be a hybrid of the two.The more effectively that a school monitors and reports on its work the less that they will need to be formally inspected. I know of schools that have very effective systems for looking at pupil progress and responding to differences in teaching quality. For these schools inspection is not such an awful experience.

    I find it unconvincing that so many contributors write about banning Ofsted without proposing an alternative. It is unrealistic to think that schools will be allowed to use public money and not be accountable for the quality of the service that they provide to the public.


  9. Yes, of course. Teachers' self regulation is the best alternative to Ofsted alongside schools' quality assessment based on pupils' progress -not in subjective, arbitrary, open-to-abuse lesson-observation.

    I think we teachers should set up a body to regulate the teachers' profession and then it would work with schools to ensure that pupils achieve the maximum progress.
  10. Lesson observation is the next bogeyman after Ofsted.

    Many schools don't do it well because of this concern about it being inspectorial and judgemental. Getting it right is about creating confidence and ensuring that it is a developmental process matched to CPD priorities.
    There is good practice to be seen in those schools that have put time into making observation an accepted activity. It can work when observations are jointly planned, where the observer collects evidence and the observed draws the conclusions, where observations are reciprocated, where it is agreed how the information will be used, where there is a 'portfolio approach' to performance management. In short, it can work if it is managed as a professional activity having little resemblance to the one-shot approach of an Ofsted inspection.

    It also fits well into self-regulation. You can't have self-regulation if you are not prepared to look at your core business - teaching.
  11. zinzan

    zinzan New commenter

    Ok Self regulation is an option, but as usual some will do it better than other. Some will not engage at all. Peer review is probably more powerful to help schools and providers evaluate each other through lesson obs, examination of performance data etc. This has proved very powerful in the post 14 sector.......................................................................................................

    Another idea. Why not set up an independent inspectorate that is free from government influence, that judges with courage and without collusion. One where 85% of its inspectors (1322 / 1567) still work in the sector and..... oh, hold it a minute..........

    Cant hear anyone complaining about the findings in Birmingham's children's services today
  12. OAS


    My point is that the whole process is orchestrated - learners are specially chosen, as are the staff. I have taken responsibility and spoken to my line manager several times and also raised the issue with the manager of the department that is allowing the poor practice - both managers have done absolutely nothing. Hey presto the magic word of inspection seems to do the trick though - whilst the college continues to receive outstanding nothing needs to be changed - the whole system stinks! Disillusioned is an understatement of how I feel. To actually have to explain that the system doesn't work and needs to be challenged is seen as treason - God forbid people actually say how it is.
  13. People will try harder if they are being inspected. Schools may also hide things they don't want inspectors to see. Everyone knows that an inspection is a comment on a school doing its best to look good. That is fair enough.
    The thing that separates good schools from less good ones is that they try hard even when they are not being inspected. Self-evaluation evidence could be the way to show this.
  14. MrMedia

    MrMedia Star commenter

    The outcome of the process is
    that the schools and the teachers should feel revitalised and motivated
    towards consolidating their successes or towards even more success. You
    might think this utopian, but then that's what good teachers do with
    their classes. How about we don't teach, instead we just suddenly burst
    in on the class periodically and say, 'Everybody, a TEST, NOW!!!! And if you
    fail, you are in the biggest sea of detentions you've ever seen and I'm
    going to publically name and shame you on the biggest banner I can
    find!' And see if this method helps them progress or if it just gives
    everyone a heart attack and makes them watch the door? Hmmmm?

    tip to reform OfSTED: watch a really good teacher. Learn.

  15. New to this forum. Been reading these messages and need to comment. This year we gave a push to observing lessons after been ofsteded and told that leaders were not doing enough monitorin or evaluating. There was a lot of grumbling in the first term but we have a pretty good system going now. HODs do peer observations using a prompt sheet that lists the points about teaching taken from the Ofsted docs. As someone said above one person collects the data and the obbserved teacher marks the columns. At the bottom the teacher writes three points.Each teacher gets seen once a term and they get to observe once a term. SLT reports back collective results each term on teaching and this is what we would show to inspectors. Biggest prob is covering classes while we do these and finding time to discuss the observation forms.
  16. Agree with lots of points here. One answer is to have good data and good data systems. My new school is quite advanced in using data and has improved its observation method. It is for performance management but everyone accepts the process and we use Ofsted's check list.
    We start by turning the raise online data into a school report as bullet points. We list your priorities from that and make sure you have data to show where things have improved. Then we make sure every middle leader understands what progress every pupil is making and not just in their subject but in every other subject too.

    My advice is be prepared to challenge Ofsted because they will try out a report on you based on raise online and see if you complain. If you dont they will give you the report thay have already written.For them this is a business.
    Now I am off for a few weeks and hopefully not think about any of this until I get back.
    Have a good break everyone.
  17. littlerussell

    littlerussell New commenter

    I think OFSTED is in need of a radical overhaul. When it first appeared in the 1990s, there were some schools who had been getting away with things for a very long time. Reports from that decade refer to very specific weaknesses - no assessment data, no planning, no child protection procedures, etc. which would be very rare now. They were, in effect, catching out the schools who aren't doing the job properly. This needed to be done.
    Now, the outcome-based model means that all they are really doing is re-interpreting data. If your school has unsatisfactory results, they'd have to see something pretty amazing to change their judgement; likewise, with outstanding results, you can get away with all manner of horrors. What they don't seem to be able to do is what they are most needed for - to identify where the problems occur. Read any special measures report, and they just churn out the same old phrases - the school needs to "raise standards" because the learners "aren't challenged enough" and that's all the fault of "inadequate leadership". For an inspection to be any use, it needs to take what is known (data) and attempt to explain WHY the results are low and WHAT specifically needs to be done to raise them. In reality, they don't have time to do that.
    My own view would be that - with the proposals for schools to be free of LA control - SIPs should be working directly for OFSTED, visiting regularly, and providing both public accountability and specific advice on how the school should move forward. In effect, they would provide line management for the headteacher. Where a school is "failing" they should not be limited to 2 days, but should re-visit that school regularly and pinpoint the exact problem, either providing or signposting guidance and support.
  18. Ofsted has passed its "sell by "date.
    It needs to be abolished as soon as possible. Consider:
    • Its ridiculous, highly subjective tick box grades of "outstanding", "good", "satisfactory" and "inadequate" for many standards that require more rigorous assessment.
    • The standard/stereotyped letters that get sent home to parents by the "chief" inspector without any solid evidence for recorded observations
    • The reports all follow a limited structure and assessment "instruments" are far too blunt,
    • Its assessment of schools is totally unscientific, subjective and in many cases malign and corruptible
    • Its bureacracy is self-serving, self-important, opaque and even its website is difficult to navigate
    • Many of its inspectors do not have sufficient classroom experience or management skills. They could learn from some highly skilled supply teachers!
    In short Ofsted must go and at present IS NOT FIT FOR PURPOSE!
  19. In our last inspection we had areas they said were satisfactory including teaching when we were convinced they were good. We have recetly done a lot of work on assessment and monitoring and we now have good data systems so we asked them to show us how their evidence proved that we were less than good. Basically they couldn't. They wouldn't go into detail. They hadn't seen a lot of teaching and what they had seen the teachers themselves said that using our system the lessons would have been good and our system is based on the Ofsted paperwork. They said that attainment was too low but our data shows that they had low attainment in their primary school and that most progress should be judged as good.

    After they left we did some more work with our data and we are certain that they should have graded us good overall but it was too late to do anything then. It is an unfair system when they come in with a fixed view and dont really look at the school properly. It is unfair that they wont show you how they took their evidence and came to the conclusions they came to. The report was written almost entirely on the attainment data in the raiseonline tables. They needn't have visited at all. The process has basically left us with little respect for Ofsted and the way they bulldozered their report on the school and ignored what we had to say. All they were trying to do was get the report out and move on to their next job. They were not interested in the school beyond the few things they wanted to look at. It is a useless system and must be changed. Next time they come in we are going to keep them there until they have seen everything that we are proud of and the successes of every pupil even if low ability.
  20. Your obseravations and perceptions show that Ofsted are self-serving, bullying and simply unfit for purpose, In an increasingly scientific and evidence based world they cannot produce such stereotyped reports.
    Furthermore Ofsted are arrogant and unwilling to listen and change its ways! In short it must be abolished asap!
    Ofsted has become totally inadequate...

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