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Leadership, OFSTED, Redesigning Schools

Inspection’s Nearly Over! It’s Official

I promised myself a few weeks ago, after lots of blogging about Ofsted, accountability and peer review, that there would be no more Ofsted posts for quite some time.  However, on Friday evening I changed my mind after Sean Harford’s, Ofsted’s National Director, speech at the ASCL Conference.

Whilst a lot of the media coverage on Friday was about the funding of the Royal College of Teaching and the formation of a group to look at standards of Professional Development (congratulations to David Weston on being given the Chair of the group) these changes will take five to ten years to start having a real impact on the profession.  The speech below might have a much greater impact in the next few years.

Sean Harford was a late replacement for Sir Michael Wilshaw who was unable to make the ASCL Conference.  I doubt very much that Sean decided to shoot from the hip and say the first thing that came to his mind.  The speech suggests that plans may already be in place, even if the planning is at an early stage, to move beyond inspection to peer review.

I have to admit to a sense of absolute delight and sat with a rather smug smile on my face for the rest of the evening.  Here are some of the highlights and my reflections:

“If Ofsted is still around in 10 years’ time…”  I doubt they will be.  In what ended up as an inglorious rant at a conference in June 2014 I gave Ofsted three to five years.  This is looking increasingly likely,  Sean went on to say, “I have very little doubt that during the five years of the next parliament, we will continue to see our education sector evolve further down the path towards a fully self-improving system,” 

“… in 10 years’ time, schools could be assessed by each other under a peer-review system, rather than by inspectors.”

These things have a way of gathering momentum, read three to five years.  With the direction set, austerity biting and the profession no longer running scared of Ofsted the process quicken.  We could see within twelve months of the start of the short inspection the process of peer review being trialled with HMI alongside to validate and assure the process.

“… I would see Ofsted’s role being to moderate judgements and assess the robustness of peer-review arrangements – making sure they weren’t just cosy fireside chats between colleagues.”

Ofsted's Dead

In my last post on Ofsted, Ofsted’s Dead: Long Live Peer Review I made the exact same point as Sean did on Friday.  HMIs must influence through wisdom and not fear.  If school’s are to lead the system they must be given the authority to do so.

Causal Links & Credit

It’s probably important to acknowledge, at this point, that it is highly improbable that there is any causal link between my blog and changes that are occurring to the inspection process.  Whilst I’ve been outspoken on this issue, I doubt highly that there is anyone at Ofsted waiting for my latest blogging offering or giving it much consideration.  Great credit must go to ASCL, and the other teaching unions, plus groups like HeadRoundTable who have provided a forum for proposals to be formulated, using social media and more usual media outlets to promulgate their message.

You can't beat a good selfie (with Mike Cladingbowl)

You can’t beat a good selfie (with Mike Cladingbowl)

Credit is also due to people working from within Ofsted.  Mike Cladingbowl was a hugely effective Director of Reform at Ofsted and Sean Harford has since taken up the baton.  Whilst both have been strong defenders of the inspection process, some elements of which I consider totally indefensible, they have made massive progress in reforming the system, in a very short period of time.
Sean Harford

We live in changing times and times which are changing for the better.  We need to build much greater Quality Assurance process, for example, around Safeguarding

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Discussion

12 thoughts on “Inspection’s Nearly Over! It’s Official

  1. Reblogged this on The Echo Chamber.

    Posted by heatherfblog | March 21, 2015, 9:53 pm
    • Bradford Secondary Heads formed the Bradford Improvement Partnership 3/4 years ago with peer reviews central to this work – 2 reviews a year led by a senior inspector or HMI, a school improvement officer and a peer head. It has been successful to a large extent but before and after comparisons are impossible due to the sheer pace of educational change.
      Bradford is a very challenging ( and very rewarding) place to work; great students but low aspiration, high levels of deprivation, high unemployment and a rapidly growing and often transient population – throw in the impact of government cuts and never ending changes to exams and on the face of it, peer review hasn’t improved schools if you look at last year’s performance however it is just as true that the situation and quality of education would be much, much worse without it. Just as the ever changing performance system make success difficult to identify, it could be said that OfSTED is changing because it can no longer accurately judge school improvement in this climate. What Bradford has now is a group of leaders standing together, working together to support and challenge one another in improving educational outcomes for young people – independent of the LA.
      When contemplating Peer Review, it is important to remember that we are not OFSTED and shouldn’t fall into the trap of becoming an ‘inspectorate’ making assumptions that match data rather than the actual. At the same time, the whole good/ outstanding school = saviour of education approach mustn’t continue as it is damaging recruitment at all levels and fails to recognise that many leaders in RI and inadequate schools are some of the best leaders in the country who could be better placed to support struggling schools in similar circumstances.
      It will be interesting after the election to see how the more conciliatory tone of the current OfSTED’s voice develops especially with Wilshaw increasingly out of the picture.

      Posted by Jones | March 22, 2015, 9:55 am
      • Fantastic points and looks like you are doing great work in Bradford. The inspection regime is beginning to unravel due to its lack of validity (it doesn’t actual measure a school’s effectiveness) and reliability (never actually been measured by Ofsted but would two independent teams make the same judgement?). Keep up the great work.

        Posted by ExecutiveHT | March 22, 2015, 10:10 am
  2. Come, come, it’s not April 1st yet.

    Posted by ijstock | March 22, 2015, 10:40 am
  3. Reblogged this on EduBookReview.

    Posted by Glynpotts | March 22, 2015, 7:47 pm
  4. Aggregate the last three years of data to account for sample size, and that’s the measure of progress of your school. Easy. Except the goalposts are moved every year. A mess. Peer review will only add to this mess. At least Ofsted talks a good game now. Would I rather be inspected by power hungry heads, charging around their MATs and spreading their egos around? I’d take my chances with HMI every time.

    Posted by Dominic Salles | March 23, 2015, 12:00 am
  5. I look forward to the SLT catching up with this news ….. ooo look a winged Sus scrofa, in flight too!

    Posted by Richard Soles | March 23, 2015, 10:36 am

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

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  2. Pingback: @OfstedNews Say Sorry by @TeacherToolkit | @TeacherToolkit - March 24, 2015

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