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What a world without Ofsted would mean for colleges

High-stakes accountability means that one call from the inspectorate can throw colleges into a panic – and put principals’ careers on the line. But could there be another way? Julia Belgutay examines the new ‘self-improvement’ system north of the border – and asks whether Ofsted’s critics should be careful what they wish for

Imagine a world without Ofsted

It was our IT department that realised first,” one college principal recalls. “They spotted a sudden spike in web traffic on the college website from Ofsted. We knew what it meant. Not long afterwards, the phone rang.”

It was that phone conversation – a potentially critical moment in the career of a chief executive. Receiving “The Call” from Ofsted means only one thing: the inspectors are coming.

Within minutes, the message spreads from the senior leaders to the furthest outposts of the campus, which buzzes with nervous activity. Inspection action plans, honed over years, are hurriedly put ...

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