Is Ofsted as an organisation, value for money for the taxpayer?
Whether it’s the weekend, the school holidays or Christmas Day, my educational life is now focused on the reliability and validity of Ofsted, scrutinising all their publications as I develop my thinking for my doctoral studies. It is important we ask questions, so here are mine.
Today, Ofsted has published its Annual Report and Accounts 2019-20. This time, I’ve taken a look over the 100 pages and provide you with some reoccurring questions I’d like to see resolved.
1. Leadership and diversity
Last year, I asked how Ofsted will improve diversity in its leadership.
The photograph below has been omitted from the 2019/20 publication made public in July 2019. Perhaps I’m overthinking having the leadership’s team photographs is a distraction from the key work Ofsted are doing? Or perhaps it’s an easier way to avoid any difficult questions on diversity and gender?
According to the latest statistics on pupils in schools in England 2020, BAME pupils in primary schools is at 33.9 per cent with secondary pupils at 32.3. In terms of the general teaching population, according to the School Workforce in England, published in June 2020, 14.3 per cent describe themselves at BAME; that’s 66,039 teachers from 453,813 full-time equivalent. An increase of 11.2% since 2010.
My first key question is, one year on, does Ofsted’s leadership team represent the demographics of the English teaching profession and its pupils?
2. Use of public funds
This question also needs to be asked again: Why do Ofsted refuse to publish its leadership team targets?
Despite a decreasing budget and general austerity before COVID19, and with the teaching profession in general struggling with finances, are we happy with Ofsted as an organisation offering bonuses on top of employee salaries? I’d be keen to learn if this feature is a salary or tax loophole labelled as a bonus, rather than for reaching specific targets…
Why are civil servants awarded bonuses via the Civil Service Compensation Scheme; with “the principles set out that appointments must be made on merit on the basis of fair and open competition.”
What elicits compensation on top of a good salary and working for civil good?
“Ofsted has established its own SCS pay committee consisting of HMCI, directors and one non-executive board member. This committee decides on all annual pay and bonus awards for members.”
Given my research into performance-related pay and its reliability for teachers and any correlation to improved classroom performance, I’m dubious here.
The independent member quality assures the process to “ensure that pay decisions are consistent with individuals’ performance evidence and that consistent criteria are applied to arrive at individual pay decisions.”
These numbers feature year-on-year, with bonus payments for 2019/20 reaching approximately £95,000.
In 2018/19 this figure was £110,000. N.b. there have been no benefits in kind this year and more bonus payments across the board. Ofsted’s report states: “Bonus payments are based on performance levels and are made as part of the appraisal process.”
An important point in the small print, and I’d be a fool if I hadn’t read the details or signposted it here: “Given the disruption to our work this year, all senior managers have agreed to waive any bonus payment that might otherwise have been made (in line with wider Civil Service pay policy) in the current financial year. ”
Moving forward in terms of how Ofsted conducts its appraisal, do more ‘Outstanding’ and ‘Good’ schools elicit a good “performance level” for a bonus? Perhaps moving more schools out of ‘Special Measures’? I’d been keen to know, Ater all, Ofsted has been sampling anonymised teacher appraisal targets for the last decade, thankfully now debunked.
On page 48 of the report (point 105) is a link to Ofsted’s gender pay report, published in January 2020.
Last year it was reported that “Ofsted’s mean gender pay gap has increased from 8.1% to 11.4%, meaning that, on average, men continue to be paid more than women.”
Ofsted’s median (middle value) pay gap is now at 0% which is good news. A significant improvement from the data published in 2018! The overall percentage of female staff (gender profile) is at 66 per cent, higher than the civil service average at 54. Ofsted’s mean (average) gender pay gap has decreased from 11.4% to 6.6%
In the Gender Pay Gap Report, Ofsted write: “We have increased the transparency of how our performance-related pay schemes are used.”
In terms of other interesting points made in Ofsted’s Annual Report, I’ve listed them below.
- In light of COVID19, Ofsted have extended the complaints consultation.
- 890 made complaints to Ofsted, more than the last 2 years; most of these were challenging the overall outcome.
- 93 per cent of last year’s complaints are resolved within 30 days. A dropping statistic…
- Approximately 19% of all complaints investigated this year had an aspect upheld or partially upheld.
- Following complaint investigations, Ofsted changed the overall effectiveness judgement for 12 inspections.
- Ofsted deemed 13 inspections to be incomplete, leading to inspectors carrying out a further visit to gather evidence.
- The Parliamentary and Health Services Ombudsman did not report on any complaints about Ofsted this year. Note, the Ombudsman does not handle complaints from public organisations such as state schools.
Ofsted and COVID19
- Due to COVID19, 36 full inspections of children’s homes were not completed, 9 post-registration visits and 61 interim inspections of children’s homes.
- During the crisis, over 600 Ofsted staff were deployed to other organisations.
- Under the new inspection framework, Ofsted has completed 8,500 early years inspections, 3,200 school inspections and 200 further education inspections.
- Ofsted was required to complete 166 required school inspections and 4,727 early years inspections by August 2020.
- Prior to COVID19, Ofsted completed 33 pilot inspections in initial teacher education.
How the new framework is received?
- Initial findings suggest that the reduced emphasis on data is reducing workload in some schools. Hurrah! Ofsted plan to publish this research in autumn 2020
- Ofsted has only been able to inspect the highest-risk 10% of outstanding providers each academic year.
- Around 3,500 Outstanding schools are exempt and about 1,000 schools have not been inspected for a decade!
- There were 300,000 submissions on Parent View.
- Ofsted also highlights the importance of their ‘stuck schools’ research. I think it’s important I highlight my own.
There is much more I could report, particularly on care homes for vulnerable children and where complaints and safeguarding requests come from, but I’ll leave it there for now.
It’s good to see Ofsted improving; I’ve seen far too many disadvantaged communities, pupils and dedicated teachers and school leaders suffer at the hands of an inspection service which seeks to improve schools standards, but through the silly notion that grading a complex institution helps us all, particular parents, evaluate education quality and service.
It is my belief that grading schools and colleges actually widens inequality across our society rather than improve equality. One of those small, yet fundamental oversights of the Ofsted process.
I will report back once I publish my doctoral studies…