Teachers' leaders brand move towards double Ofsted inspections a 'disgrace'

Somes schools will trial having two inspections on the same day this term

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The Independent Online

Schools face double inspections on the same day this term as a result of a plan being trialled by education standards watchdog Ofsted to test the reliability of its verdicts.

The move has been condemned by teachers’ leaders as a “disgrace” who claim it will put more pressure on schools and do nothing to correct flaws in the current inspection system.

Under the plan, the watchdog will send in members of Her Majesty’s Inspectorate who will be “independently inspecting the same school on the same day and comparing the judgements”.

The trial will cover a number of schools piloting a new shorter but more frequent inspection regime from this term.

Sean Harford, Ofsted’s national director for schools, has acknowledged that Ofsted had not done enough to guarantee  “different inspectors in the (same) school on the same day would give the same judgement”.

 

As a result, the inspectors from HMI will judge whether the verdict arrived at by the original inspection is in line with what they have witnessed.

Kevin Courtney, deputy general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, said: “The admission that Ofsted cannot guarantee the reliability and consistency of its inspection teams and judgements on schools is a disgrace.

“The suggestion that inspecting schools twice will resolve the flaws in the current system is nonsense.  In effect this is merely punishing the schools for Ofsted’s failings.

“Ofsted must go and the Government must act now to restore confidence in its school accountability framework.”

Mary Bousted, general secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, added: “It is incomprehensible that Ofsted has waited 23 years to investigate whether or not its judgements are reliable when the consequences for schools are so devastating if they are judged to be poor.

“We note that Ofsted, however, is not opening itself up to external evaluation of its reliability trials.”

Brian Lightman, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said it was “a welcome step” that Ofsted had recognised there was an issue of reliability as an inaccurate verdict could have “disastrous” implications for a school.

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ATL general secretary, Mary Bousted (David Sandison)

He added: “Inspectors also need to have regards to the already heavy workload that the inspection process creates. Double inspections will inevitably mean more pressure for schools.”

The trials will be carried out this term and next in schools where a new shorter but more frequent inspection regime for schools – due to be introduced from September – is being tried out. An Ofsted spokeswoman said there was no suggestion that what it termed the “working alongside” inspections would be introduced for every school.

“The validity of inspection judgements is of the utmost importance to Ofsted,” said Mr Harford.  “We go to great lengths, through our existing quality assurance process, to ensure that inspectors make judgements which are rigorously based on the evidence gathered. 

“It is frustrating that our attempts to enter a genuine debate about how we might improve still further our approach are being used to score cheap points about Ofsted’s work.”

In addition to introducing the new inspection system from September, Ofsted also intends to stop contracting out inspections to private teams and will only use directly employed inspectors.

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