Ofsted: rude to show up unannounced?

27th March 2009 at 00:00

The latest Ofsted stories and the first unannounced pilot inspection only add to the catalogue of misery that is inflicted on schools. We are currently collecting observations from headteachers on their experiences of the new short-notice (rather than no-notice) inspection regime.

The first returns are alarming. Of the first 18 replies, only two reported a really professional dialogue with the registered inspector where a holistic view of the school was taken. Three replies were "satisfactory", where the process was carried out in a reasonable manner with varying degrees of dissatisfaction at the undue emphasis on data.

Twelve replies, however, showed heads under real pressure, noting problems including rudeness, an obvious mismatch between the inspector's career experience and the type of school and, above all, a slavish adherence by the inspection team to the data. The most alarming conclusion in two schools was the comment from the registered inspector that "outstanding" could not be given - though justified - because the schools were too small and therefore the data would not warrant it!

The operation of so many Ofsted teams is still rigid, unprofessional and an insult to schools. Ofsted therefore continues to be a corrosive influence and a major contributor to the lack of applicants for headship. The only reason we can see for the move to unannounced inspections is basically a reason for justifying their existence.

Tony Roberts, Lancashire NAHT administrative and membership secretary.

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