Decent inspectors welcome scrutiny

2nd June 2000 at 01:00
Praise for good practice raises morale, according to OFSTED. Last week, the high master of Manchester grammar school suggested inspectors take a dose of their own medicine and had their work scrutinised. We asked readers for their views.

AS a registered inspector, working in the field for four years, I support attempts to ensure my work is accountable and of high quality.

I am confident it is possible to design a fair system of grading inspectors by their work. Current monitoring procedures lend themselves to such an approach. Some articles (TES, May 26) seem to imply inspectors' work is not sufficiently evaluated.

Since September, I have completed 10 contracts for inspection contractors, all involving the lead inspection of primary schools. My work has been evaluated by

each school returning a written evaluation of my, and the team's, work to the inspection contractor;

each head reporting verbally to me about our performance;

each team member completing a questionnaire on my performance which is returned to the contractor;

each report being monitored by a critical reader, employed by the contractor;

two site visits by members of the contractor's quality assurance teams, to see how the inspection is progressing;

three site visits by HM inspectors who, having given 24 hours' notice of their visit, monitor te inspction and discuss its progress with the head;

later, I receive verbal feedback from HMI on our performance. This is followed by a written evaluation on whether the inspection met OFSTED's requirements and includes comments on where improvements may be made;

two reports (so far this year) being monitored by HMI, with a follow-up written evaluation on the quality of those reports and whether they meet requirements. These have been on inspections other than those where HMI visited. Evaluations by HMI are sent to the inspection contractor as well as myself and information used to assess my overall performance and whether I am fit to be offered further contracts.

Periodically, all contractors for whom I work request me to send them copies of HMI evaluations so that they too know how the quality of my work is being judged.

As you can see, so far this year, 50 per cent of my work has been evaluated by HMI.

With such procedures, it should be possible to design a grading system for schools to see, which includes the regular monitoring by HMI in order to confirm an important element of impartiality.

No fair-minded inspector wishes to be part of an inspection system which is not accountable and which includes work by inspectors of poor quality.

Frank Carruthers

59 Harington Road



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