A radical overhaul of Ofsted is needed to address concerns about inconsistency between inspectors, Sir Tim Brighouse claims.
Writing exclusively for TES, the former London schools commissioner calls for a new inspection system based on self-evaluation, in response to “growing disquiet about Ofsted’s reliability and independence”.
“Doubts have been raised about the unreasonable variability in inspectors’ judgements of individual schools,” he writes. “The way in which the organisation itself may be unduly influenced by government is also under scrutiny."
He calls for key three changes:
- Redefining inspection. Schools should be graded on the basis of their own self-evaluation, as well as attainment levels. "It is worth reminding ourselves that we are the only developed country with such an elaborate system of school accountability, based essentially on professional mistrust," he writes.
- Redefining evidence. Ofsted should focus on collecting reliable evidence on the state of education across the country. This should be achieved through carrying out surveys of subjects and sectors. "In effect, Ofsted's role would be the educational equivalent of the Office of Budget Responsibility," Sir Tim adds.
- Redefining advice. Ofsted should provide independent evidence to the education secretary to inform policy decisions, based on its own data and external research. This, Sir Tim says, would mean "no education secretary can ever be in any doubt about what the evidence says".
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