National Audit Office to investigate Ofsted

NAO will assess whether the schools' inspectorate provides value for money

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The National Audit Office (NAO) is conducting an investigation into Ofsted, to assess whether the watchdog inspects schools efficiently and effectively.

The investigation, which will conclude in spring next year, will also examine the extent to which Ofsted’s approach to school inspection is providing taxpayers with value for money.

Specifically, the NAO will assess:

  • If Ofsted is well-placed to inspect schools efficiently and effectively.
  • Whether Ofsted is inspects its schools in an efficient and effective manner.
  • Whether the watchdog knows whether its inspections are having a positive impact.

Ofsted criticism

In the past, educationists have criticised Ofsted’s methods of inspection. Robert Coe, director for the Centre for Evaluation and Monitoring at Durham University, has drawn attention to the lack of research evidence behind Ofsted's inspection process. He has also said that there was no proof that its inspections and lesson observations led to valid judgements.

Mary Bousted, general secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, used her 2014 conference speech to describe Ofsted as “wounded”, “riddled with problems” and not fit to reform itself.

That same year, the NAO criticised the government’s system for overseeing schools, saying that it had limited information about some important elements of school performance, and therefore could not be said to offer value for money.

Speaking of the current investigation, an Ofsted spokesperson said: “As an inspectorate and regulator ourselves, Ofsted values independent scrutiny. We welcome the study, and look forward to working closely with the NAO."

The NAO is inviting anyone wanting to provide evidence for its study to contact the team on: enquiries@nao.gsi.gov.uk, putting the study title in the subject line.

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