What Are Parents’ Perceptions of OfSTED?

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Parent Views Ofsted


Ross Morrison McGill founded @TeacherToolkit in 2010, and today, he is one of the 'most followed educators'on social media in the world. In 2015, he was nominated as one of the '500 Most Influential People in Britain' by The Sunday Times as a result of...
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What do parents think about our English state schools and how they are inspected?

The Annual Parents Survey 2018 was published on 30th April 2019 by the Department for Education – the survey was designed to gather parental views of OfSTED. You can read my analysis of the same survey from 2017 and understand why the questions Ofsted ask of our parents, are misleading and dangerous.

Key findings

  1. The total number of respondents in 2018 was 1,128 parents. In the 2019 publication, this number has dropped to 1,111.
  2. One-third of parents do not believe Ofsted is a valuable source of information.
  3. One-third do not believe Ofsted improves standards.
  4. One-third do not believe Ofsted provides a reliable measure of a school’s quality.
  5. Four in 10 parents do not have sufficient awareness about Ofsted.
  6. Sixteen percent of parents have never read an Ofsted report.
  7. One in ten parents only read the front page of an Ofsted report.
  8. Only 19 percent of parents read a full inspection report – the same as in 2018.
  9. Parents in secondary schools are less likely to know Ofsted rating, with 11 percent with no idea …
  10. Some parents are concerned that Ofsted reports do not provide an accurate representation of what a school is like.
  11. Most parents do not believe outstanding schools should be exempt from inspection.
  12. Parents were in favour of using Parent View.
  13. Forty percent of parents would prefer to write anonymous views.
  14. Only 18% of parents use the website to find out about schools rating – the lowest in three years.
  15. Parents find out about the school’s Ofsted rating, largely from the school itself. Are schools feeding the beast?
  16. Eight in 10 parents have a good understanding of their child’s curriculum.
  17. Parents are less likely to understand subjects such as art, music, languages and Design and Technology sufficiently.
  18. Seventy percent of parents do not believe their child is receiving more teaching time on a wide range of subjects.
  19. One comment from a parent reads, “It didn’t really tell me anything I didn’t already know.”
  20. Another parent said “How happy are the staff? This would help me understand how the school is managed…”

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When comparing the key findings between 2018 and 2019, you’d be forgiven for thinking the data has been misquoted.

Worth considering?

The agreement is highest among younger parents (18 to 34) and lowest in those aged 35-54 (72% and 63% respectively). Confidence in Ofsted’s ability to improve standards is also significantly higher amongst parents from a BAME background (77% compared with 67% who are white).

Oh, the irony.

Is the data reliable?

It is worth considering how Ofsted has produced the following findings and if anything reliable can be used.

According to the Office for National Statistics, there are over 12.9 million families in England. Their guidance on collecting reliable data –  a practical guide to sampling –  recommends the following processes to be able to gather reliable outcomes from statistics. For any data to be worthy of meaningful, reliable and valid information, there are five key factors that must be considered.

  1. Margin of error: a measure of the difference between a sample and actual population.
  2. Amount of variability: the more varied the opinions, the less accurate the estimate.
  3. Confidence level: how the results from the sample line within the associated precision.
  4. Population size total number of items in the population – only important if the sample size is greater than 5%
  5. Population proportion: the proportion of items in the population.

“Sampling can provide a valid, defensible methodology but it is important to match the type of sample needed to the type of analysis required.” (ONS)

One year ago, I asked an Ofsted official, “What type of person accesses Ofsted’s website information?” The response was, “We don’t collect this information.” I suspect one year later, they still don’t. If you put me in a corner, I’d say the profession itself are reading full Ofsted reports, rather than our parents, and this is what is fuelling teacher workload and attrition – me included!

Download the full research paper.

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