Pupils back inspections

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The Independent Online
EXPERTS AND teachers may doubt whether inspection improves schools, but pupils are more positive.

Nearly four out of 10 think that an inspection improved their school, according to a Mori survey of 4,000 11- to 16-year-olds. Boys in particular said they learned more in class after the inspection than before. A third of them noticed the difference compared with around a quarter of girls.

Overall, one in five pupils thought the standard of teaching was better after the inspector called. Nearly seven out of 10 believed that it had stayed the same and only five per cent thought it was worse.

The figures, however, include only those who noticed that their school was being inspected. While teachers and heads report that inspection is one of the most stressful and demoralising experiences of their professional lives, it appears to pass unnoticed by many of their pupils.

Fewer than half the pupils who responded to Mori's questionnaires were aware that their school had been inspected since they arrived. However, two-thirds of the children in middle schools knew the inspection had happened.

Younger pupils were less likely than older ones to have realised the inspectors were in school. However, the awareness of inspections among pupils is growing. Of those inspected last year, 84 per cent realised that the inspection had taken place.

A spokesman for Mori said: "Ofsted (Office for Standards in Education) inspections appear, on the whole, to have made a positive contribution to standards in schools, according to the views of pupils.

"Although the study did not directly address causality, the clear implication is that there is an association, in some young people's minds, between inspections and changes in teaching and learning. Inspections seem to help boys in particular with their learning, of particular note, given the recent debate about the relative performance of the sexes."

Mori also asked pupils' views about the amount of homework they received. Most, 58 per cent, said they were given "about the right amount" but a third said they had too much. Hardly any thought they were given too little.