What’s the point of Ofsted visiting a school in the first place?
Now and again we’d watch a video of some children in a lesson – was it a good lesson or not? Inevitably we couldn’t agree. Out of 400 or so inspectors, there would be a four-way split on how we’d judge it.
He writes about his own personal conflict with the watchdog.
“Herein lies the problem with inspection: it’s flawed to the point that it is nigh on impossible. Can you judge a football team without watching it play? And so, do you watch the team play, or do you just look at their results? And how do you compare two teams with entirely different resources? Leicester City, say, and Barcelona?” says former inspector and current headteacher Andrew Morrish.
“… I guarantee that in any inspection, if you repeat it a week later with two different inspectors then the outcome will be different. And given that decisions can rip the heart out of a local community, inspection at its worst is both cruel and unusual.” (Source)
Pack Your Bags?
How damaging is this for all of us who are working diligently in schools? Is it time for Ofsted to pack its bags?
Morrish goes on to write, “… even though the framework for inspection is a slimmer beast than it used to be, there are still hundreds of criteria that need to be considered in real-time by inspectors. All of this then needs to be triangulated and tested, all the while tearing round classes, snatching 10 minutes here or there with a teacher who, while under this immense pressure.“
When I met Sean Harford, National Director for Schools in April 2015, in our one-to-one meeting he answered 9 questions. He alluded to the revised 2015/16 framework having reduced number of changes; the DfE supported this in their Workload Challenge report.
Harford and I discussed the move towards regional hubs being established to aid capacity, and how peer-to-peer inspections could help the inspectorate have more credibility, designing practitioner-led accountability. Two months later in June 2015, Ofsted moved ‘in-house’ after 1,200 inspectors were culled.
Harford assures me that although their were 2/3rds less inspections in the autumn term of 2015, the watchdog still have capacity to inspect schools.
Morrish continues …
The new chief inspector needs to acknowledge that the situation is far from ideal, and have the humility to do so in public … To whoever takes on the role, here is your first task: scrap yourself. Ofsted has outgrown its original remit, so you need to abolish the organisation in its current form. Instead, you could morph it into a School Inspection Service.”
Can we move to a model where school leaders are supporting one another to become better, not making high-stakes judgements that lead to one another losing jobs? Impacting further on recruitment and admissions? Or celebrating with large banners sprawled across our school gates saying: “[THIS] school is Outstanding.”
If we move to a peer-review system, “it [should] be owned by the profession and won’t keep changing every couple of years because we will take our time, consult and confer, and get it right first time.”
You can read more about Morrish’s hopes as an inspector – written in September 2015 – before he kick-starts the autumn term. It’s a fascinating read.
Or read the moment he resigned from being an inspector;
Either I continue to inspect and work for Ofsted, or I blog. It seems I can’t do both. Or rather, I can do both, providing I refrain from writing about the inspection process and expect future posts to be doctored by Ofsted. So, after seven years as an inspector, I’ve resigned from Ofsted. Blog won.
Morrish concludes: “Having made the difficult decision to resign, I wrote to the national director almost a month ago, outlining my concerns about the matter and to question Ofsted’s decision to censure my blog.”
I share his article and blogs here to raise awareness and in support.
We need more blogs like this! Thank you Andrew Morrish.
*this is (yet) another impromptu blog about Ofsted!
A response from Sean Harford;