Heads are urged to report back on Ofsted inspectors

Heads are urged to report back on Ofsted inspectors

BBC |May 3, 2012

By Katherine Sellgren BBC News, at the NAHT conference in Harrogate
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Head teachers are being urged to report back on Ofsted inspectors to ensure inspections are carried out constructively and impartially.

The National Association of Head Teachers said inspections were too “variable” and “subjective” and wants heads to record their experiences.

An NAHT survey of 2,158 heads suggests 90% do not like the tone of recent Ofsted announcements.

Ofsted said it strived to achieve consistency.

It added that everyone who inspects for Ofsted is highly trained and subjected its work to a rigorous quality assurance process.

But as the NAHT annual conference get under way in Harrogate, the association said out of about 2,150 responses, 98% felt judgements by England’s school inspections body were subject to political interference.

And some 69% of heads who answered a question about career plans said they felt discouraged by Ofsted announcements.

The new chief inspector, Sir Michael Wilshaw, upset some in the teaching profession by suggesting schools would face no-notice inspections from the autumn. Currently, schools get up to two days’ notice of an inspection.

The NAHT is setting up a scheme not dissimilar from Ofsted’s controversial Parent View, where parents are invited to give feedback on schools – heads are invited to report back via a survey on the NAHT website.

It says its School View initiative will enable heads to monitor the performance of Ofsted inspectors.

Heads will be asked to identify themselves – not for publication purposes, but to verify that the source is a bona fide head teacher.

“This is unlike Parent View which is based on anonymous data,”the association says.

‘Roll of the dice’

Russell Hobby, general secretary of the NAHT, said schools must be accountable for their work and problems addressed.

“But the quality of Ofsted inspections is far too variable, too subjective. Pupils, parents and teachers deserve better than a roll of the dice for the result.

“Frequent changes of the inspection framework mean that even the inspectors themselves struggle to keep up.

“There are fair-minded, expert inspectors out there, but we need far more. Ofsted wants a ‘no excuses’ culture – well, that applies to them too.

“NAHT’s School View will provide an independent audit of Ofsted performance by schools which have been inspected. It will go beyond anecdote and rumour to provide hard evidence.”

A spokesman for Ofsted said: “We very much welcome NAHT’s recognition of the importance of accountability and providing the opportunity for feedback.

“Last month we announced our drive to get head teachers more involved in the inspection process by calling on them to undertake a small number of inspections every year and the pilots with the National College will start next month.

“NAHT’s feedback will support our own post-inspection questionnaires with head teachers to ensure that the process works well for schools and Ofsted. More than nine out of 10 respondents consistently tell us inspection will help their school improve and that they are happy with the way their inspection was carried out.”

Mr Hobby is expected to set out proposals for a collaborative approach to raising school standards in his speech to delegates at the conference on Sunday.

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