Visits to English Schools by Amanda Spielman (Part 2)


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Amanda Spielman

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Since her appointment as Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector, which schools has Amanda Spielman visited?

On 28th April 2022, I made another Freedom of Information request to Ofsted. I wanted to know which schools Amanda Spielman had visited since her appointment, including what activity has taken place during COVID-19.

Image credit: The Guardian

I have been making Freedom of Information requests to the Department for Education since June 2018. My aim is to unpick if people in positions of power and influence have a genuine interest in all types of schools and college settings. I also accept that Spielman’s key role is not to visit schools and colleges, but to lead Ofsted and report to the public.

Freedom of Information

“Dear Ofsted, Please could you advise of the number of visits to early years, primary, and secondary state schools and colleges by Amanda Spielman (HMCI) from 1st September 2019 to the date of this request, 28th April 2022. I would like this data broken down by [link]:

  1. Ofsted grading
  2. Type of school (including free school, grammar, studio etc)
  3. Region
  4. Date of visit
  5. Name of school/event.”

Ofsted responded …

“We hold records of visits made by Amanda Spielman HMCI to early years providers, schools and colleges from 1 September 2019 to the date of your request. We also hold details of the Ofsted grading, type of school, region the school was in, name of the school, college or provision and the date of the visit [Letter response].”

Interestingly, Ofsted added this:

“There is a significant number of visits that HMCI made during that time in relation to our other remits that do not fall within the scope of your request, for example visits to children’s homes, prisons, local authorities etc.

Most of HMCI’s visits are to good or outstanding providers. This is because inadequate or requires improvement providers are likely to receive monitoring visits from Ofsted, and we do not normally schedule visits outside of these due to the potential additional pressure on the school, college or early years provision.”

It’s good to read this and it is helpful context for all. A visit from HMCI would add unnecessary pressure on schools, at least acknowledging that Ofsted does increase pressure on the teaching workforce.

Initial analysis

Since 1st September 2017, Amanda Spielman has visited 67 schools throughout the 1,728 day period.

When I last asked for this information (Sep 2017 to Dec 2018), Spielman had visited 35 schools. As this information is already public, the new request would not document this information.

Therefore, since 1st January 2019, Speilman has visited 32 more schools – not including prisons et al.

During the peak of the pandemic in the UK, Ofsted inspectors and Spielman all sat at home whilst teachers continued on the front line. Thus, Spielman made no visits to schools from 05.03.2020 until 08.07.2022. She then didn’t visit another school until November 2020 and another in May 2021.

It will be interesting to unpick all education settings in a future request.

At this stage, I would normally conduct an analysis of school visits in comparison to the relative school time available, and work out a ratio. I’ve ignored doing this for this blog.

Ofsted rating at the time of visit?

Let’s break down the demographics of Spielman’s school visits, their type and Ofsted rating at the time of her visit (for this FOI timestamp):

  • Number of Outstanding schools visited = 13 schools
  • Number of Good schools visited = 11 schools
  • Number of Requires Improvement schools visited = 0 schools 
  • Number of Inadequate schools visited = 0 schools 
  • Number of Special Measures schools visited = 0 schools
  • Number of settings with no Ofsted rating visited = 9 settings
  • Note, schools with no Ofsted rating are largely academy converters, startups or prison

Types of school?

  • Number of all-through schools visited = 3 schools
  • Number of early years visited = 5 schools
  • Number of primary schools visited = 12 schools
  • Number of secondary schools visited = 4 schools
  • Number of independent providers visited = 1 school
  • Number of FES = 7 settings
  • Number of ITT institutions visited = 0 training providers
  • Number of pupil referral units visited = 0 schools

By region?

I’ve not shown this analysis before, but it’s worth considering if people in positions of power and influence visit all parts of the country.

  • East Midlands number of visits = 3 schools
  • East of England number of visits = 2 schools
  • North East, Yorkshire and Humber number of visits = 7 schools
  • North West number of visits = 3 schools
  • London number of visits = 8 schools
  • South East number of visits = 3 schools
  • South West number of visits = 3 schools
  • West Midlands number of visits = 3 schools

The London bubble is clearly evident here.

On the point of Spielman only visiting good or outstanding schools, leaving Ofsted and its processes to monitor schools and colleges that are struggling, this makes sense. However:

… it’s a bit like the Queen visiting people across the UK. Everything gets a fresh lick of paint, and a real sense of what is going on is far from one’s radar!

Footnote:

After Spielman said (from home) that “in a lot of schools, it felt as though their attention went very rapidly to [helping] the most disadvantaged children, making food parcels, going out visiting… but in some cases [it was prioritised over teaching]…” I then looked over Amanda Spielman’s Twitter network. Take a look at the text mining data I gather as a result of her comments …


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