Ebay: great for concert tickets ... and Ofsted cheats

4th December 2009 at 00:00
Completed self-evaluation forms offered from #163;1.99 as cottage industry emerges online

Many education professionals would do almost anything to avoid filling out the forms that accompany an Ofsted inspector's visit - and that includes paying for a form that is already completed.

In fact, such is the dread of an impending Ofsted inspection experienced by some that it has created a cottage industry online.

Ebay, the hugely popular online auctioning site, has become the arena for entrepreneurial teachers who have taken to selling their Ofsted "outstanding" forms to the highest bidder. Such is the competition between these mini-businesses that a headteacher can buy a completed self-evaluation form (SEF) for as little as #163;1.99.

One seller from Birmingham, going by the username of JGW347, gives the hard sell saying they have more than 10 years' experience in early years education and that their SEF has been "praised" by Ofsted inspectors.

But the proprietor does warn that the completed form cannot guarantee a "good" Ofsted report.

Another seller, sokaina586, has built a small empire by offering pre-completed early years forms filled out by a sibling, who is described as a "first-class child minder".

A discerning buyer can choose from any number of items, including a pre-completed fire action plan, a health and safety register or even a pre-completed risk assessment register. Sokaina586 even states: "You can find the same item on Ebay for double the price that I'm offering. 100 per cent satisfaction is guaranteed with this complete form - 99 per cent of the work is done for you!"

Mike Kent, headteacher at Comber Grove Primary in south London and columnist for The TES, said of one of the entrepreneurs: "Good luck to him. I only hope he's putting the money in his school fund and not in his pocket. As far as I can see, he's not doing anything illegal, and has carefully worded his advert to say that a school won't necessarily get a "good" report just because they've used his document.

"It's only a step further on from Ofsted's own ridiculous 88-page document illustrating how to fill the new SEF in."

Annette Brooke, Liberal Democrat spokesperson for children and young people, said the online industry shows the level of contempt Ofsted inspections are afforded.

"What a farcical inspection framework we have when providers are buying and selling their evaluations online," she said.

"The Government's bureaucratic approach looks set to create a whole new industry for those wanting to profit from all the form-filling. I can understand providers wanting to limit the time they have to spend on form-filling because the new framework places huge burdens on them."


- An entrepreneurial head in Stroud has auctioned a two-week holiday in the south of France to help raise funds to build a school in India.

- Pupils at a school in Liverpool tried and failed to sell school credits, earned by doing good work, on Ebay.

- Suzanne Daniels, a PE teacher from the Lake District, bought her wedding dress from Ebay for 99p.

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