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NAHT Comments on flawed Ofsted data

Russell Hobby, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT), said: “Last week Ofsted published its 'data dashboard' and encouraged governors, parents and the media to use it to challenge schools.

“The NAHT warned at the time that the data was simplistic; in many cases less sophisticated than that already used in schools. We now learn that the data was also misleading. Schools have been humiliated on the basis of inaccurate data and, were it not for the vigilance of the profession, eventually schools would have been closed and jobs lost.

“Mistakes happen. Healthy organisations address them and learn from them. What should Ofsted learn from this? That its data does not support the weight placed on it. Data is vital to any successful school but it is the start, not the end, of the story. A few headline statistics do not necessarily supply the objective and accurate picture that many assume they might and we must always dig beneath them. Too often Ofsted makes - and encourages others to make - judgments that have profound consequences based on very shaky foundations.

“Of more concern to school leaders, however, is that Ofsted does not appear to hold itself accountable for the same demanding standards it asks of schools. If a head teacher had presented data of this quality to an inspection team they would be lambasted. And this is not the only such example. Ofsted's performance management and quality assurance of inspectors is far weaker than that it expects from schools.

“Sadly, as the inspection empire has grown, Ofsted is no longer able to sustain in-depth quality investigations of schools, relying more and more heavily on short cuts. It is time to retrench and rethink the whole inspection regime. “

 

Page Published: 12/03/2013