An inspector calls

17th April 2009 at 01:00
We have just received our inspection report and the inspectors have gone overboard on `community cohesion'. There is more about that than children's progress or development. Why?

Community cohesion is now a statutory duty. Schools that ignore, neglect or refuse to carry out statutory duties can expect to be criticised in an inspection report. If their promotion of community cohesion is judged to be inadequate, that may affect other inspection judgments, including the judgment on the overall effectiveness of the school. No matter how good other aspects are, I cannot, for example, imagine how a school can be graded as outstanding if its contribution to community cohesion is inadequate.

All schools have had a duty to promote community cohesion since September 2007, and Ofsted's inspection framework requires that inspectors evaluate the school's contribution to community cohesion as part of its evaluation of leadership and management.

So it shouldn't be surprising to see references to community cohesion at least within the leadership and management section of reports. This may include a comment on how effectively governors evaluate the school's work in this field. Often the impact of the school's efforts will be evident in pupils' spiritual, moral, social and cultural development, as pupils learn about cultures and beliefs beyond their own. This means that community cohesion can be mentioned in the curriculum andor personal development sections of a report. If the work on community cohesion is a particular strength or weakness of the school, it is likely to be referred to in the overall evaluation, which should give an overview that tells the story of the school.

Even given all of this, however, it is unlikely that reports will give more space to community cohesion than to achievement or personal development, since both of these have their own separate sections in most reports. If it is mentioned at length it will be because inspectors have decided it is an important feature of the school.

Selwyn Ward has been an inspector for 15 years, working in primary and secondary schools. The views expressed here are his own. To ask him a question, email him at features@tes.co.uk.

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