I must counter Ofsted's criticisms of the Independent Schools' Inspectorate (ISI), drawing on my experience of both Ofsted and ISI as an inspector, and more recently as a consultant to maintained and independent schools.
The evidence I have gathered over the past 18 months strongly confirms that ISI inspections are very effective in raising standards for the following reasons:
- the system is led, monitored and quality assured by former senior HMI of exceptional calibre
- the training of inspectors is of a very high standard
- team inspectors are highly regarded by teachers because they have current experience of subject teaching and managing in the independent sector
- reporting inspectors are mainly former HMI who have credibility and ensure that judgments are rooted in a perspective gained from inspecting the length and breadth of the country.
Clearly, a new system needs to be fine tuned but the ISI director, Tony Hubbard, and his small cadre of support staff have worked hard to introduce a coherent and consistent framework for inspection on a very limited budget.
Independent school heads and teachers are in the main very positive about this new regime which replaces the former disparate inspection services provided by the various associations. A little credit would not go amiss.
Educational consultant OFSOL,