The Evidence Against Ofsted Is Overwhelming!

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A Father Helps His Little Daughter To Do Her Homework For The School.


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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How do parents react to information about school quality when their children are already in schools?

New research suggests that parents receiving good news [Ofsted inspection outcomes] about their children’s schools were around 20 percentage points more likely to reduce help with homework than those who did not. This is my quick summary of the 71 pages of research …

Does an Ofsted report generate worse performance?

Research published claims that “Children whose families receive positive news about their school perform significantly worse in exams.” This lead to a further and more interesting provocation – Does a ‘good’ Ofsted report lead to worse GCSE results?

This would prove to be an interesting study on the after-effect of Ofsted ratings on schools – particularly when the report is published early into the academic year.

What can we conclude from the research?

The researchers claim that [Ofsted grades] may:

  1. Drive a wedge between policy
  2. Reinforce/mitigate inequalities across families and school
  3. Shape the political economy of how the education system is organised
  4. That when parents receive good news, they significantly decrease time investment into their children.
  5. This implies that for the average household, beliefs over school quality and parental inputs are substitutes.
  6. Therefore, the ability of public investment into school quality to raise test scores is mitigated because of offsetting responses of parents
  7. Current literature focuses on ‘extensive margin’ of school choice or house price responses to information on school quality or accountability. i.e. Ofsted ratings increase house prices, therefore widening social mobility, not decreasing it.
  8. Parents in lower income countries spend more time providing time inputs into their children. This suggests that household responses to information about school quality may be even larger in low-income settings.


Here is a snapshot of some of the detailed data offered in this report.

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What do we already know?

  1. One-off ‘snapshot’ observation is unlikely to yield valid results.
  2. Ofsted gradings of schools does increase teacher-attrition.
  3. How Ofsted selects a school for an inspection remains a mystery/secret formula.
  4. Only one-third of parents believe Ofsted are independent of government.
  5. That Ofsted’s judgements on schools does not accurately reflect the quality of education that a school provides.
  6. That the questions Ofsted asks of parents during an inspection are misleading and unreliable.
  7. Even Ofsted’s own research lead has said teaching is “incredibly complex and judging teacher or school effectiveness is therefore also difficult.”
  8. The National Audit Office suggested Ofsted are not good value for money to the taxpayer.
  9. Ofsted even has to re-inspect schools because they make mistakes or circumstances do not allow them to evaluate schools accurately in such a short time…
  10. Despite all this evidence, Ofsted will continue to grade schools.
  11. Ofsted reports are a weak predictor of school quality.
  12. Ofsted grades are weak predictors of pupil outcomes.
  13. Ofsted’s annual report 2020: Unintended consequences…

I could go on and on with the surmounting evidence…


You can download the research paper and with me, continue to ask ‘Why do Ofsted continue to grade schools, despite little or no evidence that it actually leads to school improvement (or, what parents want)?

This research was published by the Institute for Social and Economic Research at the University of Essex (ISER), the Institute of Fiscal Studies, the University of Sussex, University College London and the University of Bristol – read the full research paper.

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