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More research is needed into the reliability of Ofsted inspections, says NAHT

Commenting on the announcement on a study published today by Ofsted into the reliability of short school inspections, Russell Hobby, general secretary of school leaders’ union NAHT, says: “we welcome that Ofsted is continually striving to improve the reliability of its inspections. It’s crucial that school leaders have confidence in the inspection regime.

“The report shows that of 24 short inspections, inspectors agreed on the initial outcome in 22 cases. This is encouraging, but does highlight that one in ten inspections could be wrong. The sample size here is small, so we would like to see a more expansive study to look into short inspections to give a more accurate snapshot of the current system.

“Reliability matters for Ofsted rulings because the stakes are so high. A poor Ofsted grading can destroy a career. But there are limits to how reliable inspection can or should be while still adding value. As well as a reliable system, we need a proportionate one as well. High stakes accountability distorts the inspection process and amplifies the consequences of inevitable mistakes. Where weaknesses are highlighted in schools, support should be provided. This is the more constructive, and less adversarial, inspection system we’d like to see.”

James Bowen, director of middle leaders’ union NAHT Edge, says “anyone who works in a school knows the dread felt when an Ofsted inspection is announced. We need three things to happen: to have a system that is less high stakes; where inspections are reliable and trusted and look at the whole school; and where support is given to schools to improve. There is often a conflict between the first and third of these, with the high stakes nature often leading to a change in leadership following a judgement, rather than the support schools need.

“NAHT has continually argued for greater peer-review within the system to provide a more nuanced and supportive environment for school leaders. This would help address some of the gaps we see within current arrangements.”  

Page Published: 07/03/2017

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