I don’t think this at all. So I’ll be really clear. I can’t over emphasise how much I appreciate the time which Sean – and others within Ofsted, notably David Brown and Paul Garvey (and Mike Cladingbowl before he moved elsewhere) – have taken to listen to an engage with those of us who have made the time to offer what I hope is constructive criticism of Ofsted and the inspection process.
Which brings me back to the idea of Ofsted inspections being a charade. I’ll be very clear. There is abundant evidence that a visit from Ofsted is largely a pointless exercise given the weight which Not Even Wrong RAISEonline data carries before anyone has even entered a school building. Evidence from people such as Geoff Barton, JordyJax and Tom Sherrington is merely the tip of the iceberg when it comes to what happens when Ofsted Inspectors visit.
Policy Exchange’s report Who Watches the Watchmen made it clear how Ofsted’s Overall Effectiveness grade is driven by Achievement of Pupils, which in turn dictates the Quality of Teaching grade. Whilst David Brown, in particular, is always on hand to point out that, in some - extremely rare - cases, Quality of Teaching is graded differently, at least 98% of the time, QoT = OE = AoP.
Here is Watchsted’s analysis of the latest 100 Primary and Secondary inspections:
Geoff Barton (who became Executive Headteacher at a local Middle School as well as running his St Edmond’s Secondary) has the dubious distinction of having an Ofsted report in which QoT isn’t the same as AoP (QoT was held to require improvement rather than slavishly follow AoP’s Inadequate rating). The school was unusual, and as he says, “At every opportunity we hammered home – and worried that we were overstating – the distinctiveness of the middle school context. “We don’t fit a classic two-tier pattern,” we kept pointing out. “Progress has to be measured from where children are when they join us in Year 4 to where they finish at the end of Year 8. Please don’t just focus on Year 6 attainment data.” But that, essentially, is what happened – an obsessive focus on KS2 attainment, a lack of appreciation of the school’s distinctive context, a reluctance to engage in meaningful dialogue.”
JordyJax’s latest blog is perhaps the most stark of the examples I’ll use. As Deputy Head in a previously Outstanding Pupil Referral Unit, she found that after a first day which seemed positive, day two of their inspection was not a happy one. “LI and HMI now had a plethora of data which conflicted and confused. Holed up in a little room they came to a very different conclusion from the previous day and despite judging behaviour and safety ( our core purpose) as good….the data told a different tale……RI. Now there is a lot more to our story because RI reverses every judgement……teaching and learning, management, governance…..you name it and it is all crap! Even though nothing less than good was observed, ‘bad’ data trumped the lot!!!”
My own experience of Ofsted judgements is that schools in which I have worked have had Inspection results based purely on the data for the previous year’s Year 6. In a couple of cases these have been downgraded dramatically, and in couple of cases they have jumped up grades. Two schools in which I have taught have gone from being good or outstanding, down to RI, and back up to good or outstanding within ridiculously short periods of time.
In neither school had very much changed other than the children taking SATs at the end of Year 6. This realisation is what drove me into my current role, and it’s what drives my writing about data now. When schools are judged on data, and data alone, it makes a mockery of all the triple marking and evidencing and form filling and tracking and assessing and extended curriculum provision and sports and drama and international connections and field trips and residentials and value which schools actually add to the lives of the pupils they work with.
And that’s the charade. Schools which are Outstanding in every single category have data which looks like this:
I’d appreciate your thoughts in the comments below.