According to an article in the TES (Times Education Supplement) by Adi Bloom, the combined voices of the Ofsted chief inspector, Amanda Spielman and the General Secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, Mary Bousted both believe that Schools carrying out internal inspections is a waste of time and resources. The statement from Ofsted ran “mocksteds are unnecessary and a waste of teachers’ time and resources, whether carried out by consultants, Multi Academy Trusts or any other schools.”
I would be the first to concede my understanding of educational practice is very low and all that I do know about Ofsted is gained second hand. My concern then is not if Spielman and Bousted are right, but more how far from the rest of society is such a set of processes? I work for a business that has been awarded ISO9001 status. To do so meant that our business worked hard to ensure that we had a clear set of policies and processes laid out and then that we do what we can to follow those. I would not for one minute suggest that our annual audit (scheduled for this Friday as it happens) is in any way comparable to the process of an Ofsted inspection, but nevertheless a few weeks ago we employed the consultant who helped us to draw up our policies and processes in the first place, to ensure that we are complying with them. This is the second time we have been tested to see if we are still on track and both years we have made changes as the business grows and our practices change. I realise that Schools and other educational providers cannot adapt to nationally set standards in the same way as businesses can to their own standards, however if we lost our accreditation we would be very disturbed as it would impact on our ability to win business contracts. It is our built into our culture that we recognise that the more open we are with clients as well as auditors, the more likely we are to win their support.
There are also parallels with the way in which Police Forces are inspected. I chair a committee which acts as a critical friend to Sussex Police. At our last meeting we were joined by two inspectors from HMIC and it is clear to me that a whilst no one likes being inspected by an agency that can damage their reputation, that it is possible to find ways of testing performance and adherence to best practice in a manner that is constructive, not destructive. Perhaps it is time for Ofsted to explore different ways of working so that rather than Schools being told not to waste time with mocksteds that the work of schools own internal assessments can be taken into account by Ofsted and that those Schools which are working to carry out such ongoing analysis gains value for such ongoing internal work.