27th April 2007 at 01:00
Q. Our inspection report included several grammatical and typographical errors. Two sentences made no sense at all. This doesn't set a good example for pupils. Are all reports this sloppy?

A. I am disappointed to hear of any report being published with such errors. I see a lot of reports and can assure you this is a rarity. One of the features of the present system is that all reports routinely go through multiple checks. Every report will be put through a quality assurance check by the regional inspection service provider, which organises inspections on Ofsted's behalf. It is sent to the school for a factual accuracy check, signed off and given a final proofreading by HMI before publication. Mistakes such as you describe will have to have escaped notice in all of those checks and would be extremely rare. They are much less likely than under the previous system where the procedures were different. Earlier systems sometimes meant reports from the first round of inspection did contain some curious sentences. My favourite, spotted in a report from 10 years ago, is: "Statutory requirements, apart from the delivery of information technology, collective worship, some health and safety issues detailed in the support, guidance and welfare section of this report and the provision of some aspects of the statutory information for parents, are fully met." Certainly a case of accentuating the positive.

Q. If Ofsted is there to help, then why does the head not get to see the parent questionnaires? How is the head expected to act upon advice?

A. Ofsted wants parents to have the confidence of knowing they can give inspectors their views without parents being individually identified to the headteacher. Inspectors will usually, however, share the main points with the head. Increasingly, quotes from comments on the questionnaires make their way into the inspection report. If parents voice particular concerns, which inspectors need to follow up, they will tell the school that is what they are doing

Selwyn Ward draws on years of inspection experience. The views expressed here are his own. To ask him a question contact him at Selwyn regularly answers your Ofsted questions on our forums at

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