An influential think tank that is close to the government is asking teachers and the wider education world whether Ofsted is “fit for purpose”.
Fresh from its report into performance-related pay published last week, Policy Exchange has announced that the schools inspectorate will be the subject of its next piece of educational research.
While paying tribute to the watchdog’s “relentless desire to drive up standards”, Policy Exchange is calling on teachers, heads and inspectors to offer feedback on the performance of Ofsted.
A new post on the Policy Exchange website asks whether education professionals feel that inspectors make “accurate assessments” of teaching quality and student progress.
Perhaps most interestingly, the call for evidence questions whether teachers “feel under pressure to adapt the way you teach, mark or any other practices to meet Ofsted requirements”.
Policy Exchange also asks for evidence about whether teachers have ever felt under pressure to “‘game’ the system, either by presenting data in a certain way, or changing your normal practice during an inspection”.
The TES Connect forums have long been filled with tales of malpractice by schools when Ofsted are in town. A TES feature in 2012 included some of the more eyebrow-raising allegations.
One teacher said that his previous school “sent two coach loads of disruptive pupils to Alton Towers during the two days of Ofsted”, while another contributor claimed his school’s most badly-behaved children were paid up to £100 to make themselves scarce during Ofsted’s visit.
While many critics have accused Ofsted of being too close to education secretary Michael Gove since Sir Michael Wilshaw was appointed as chief inspector, it will be fascinating to see whether the think tank that Mr Gove co-founded will dig up any damaging new revelations.
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