Ofsted: 'Our new inspections can win teachers over'

EXCLUSIVE: Ofsted director says the new inspections, starting this week, will be more useful to schools

John Roberts

Ofsted director Chris Jones hopes the new inspections will shift people's perceptions of Ofsted.

A senior Ofsted director has said he hopes the regulator's new school inspections, which place less emphasis on exam and test results, will change the way people think about the inspectorate.

Chris Jones, Ofsted’s director of corporate strategy, told Tes he hoped the new framework and its quality-of-education grade would make inspection "more valuable to those on the receiving end".

His comments came as the inspectorate’s own annual teacher survey revealed that fewer than a fifth of teachers regard Ofsted as a trusted and reliable arbiter of standards.

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The survey also found that five out of six teachers agreed with a statement that said Ofsted places an unacceptable burden on the system.

And yesterday, Tes revealed how thousands of "exhausted and worried" school leaders have spent the summer anxiously seeking advice on the new inspections.

However, Mr Jones hopes the perception of Ofsted could shift once schools experience its new inspections.

He told Tes that the inspectorate had been encouraged by the reaction to pilot inspections carried out earlier this year.

“The majority of feedback that inspectors have got from their pilot inspections has been positive, reflecting our ambition for inspection to feel more like a developmental conversation, more collaborative and more co-constructed," Mr Jones said.

"We should remember that they are pilots and do not have the weight of a grade or the high-stakes nature of the real inspection. What I am hoping is that, from September, we do see that carry through into the live inspections.”

However, he added that he did not expect people’s perceptions of Ofsted to change quickly.

“Your average good school will get a one- or two-day inspection every four years or so," Mr Jones said.

"That cycle takes a long time to go around. If perceptions of Ofsted are to change through our new inspections – and I do hope that they do – we are looking at a long-term project rather than a short-term thing.”

But he was clear that there was a gap between the way Ofsted is perceived and what it is aiming to achieve through the new framework.

Ofsted’s new inspections will no longer give schools a separate grade for teaching and learning and for pupils' outcomes, which will be replaced by a new assessment of the quality of education.

Inspectors will be less focused on exam and test scores, they will no longer look at schools’ own internal data and the visits will be more focused on what is taught through the school curriculum.

Mr Jones said: “I think it will enable conversations between inspectors and school leaders to be much more focused on the substance of what school leaders are trying to; it should enable the conversations to be much more focused on developing the school rather than working towards the next Ofsted inspection or creating a tick list of things to get a better Ofsted grade.”

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John Roberts

John Roberts

John Roberts is North of England reporter for Tes

Find me on Twitter @JohnGRoberts

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