Ten Questions OFSTED Need to AnswerJanuary 21, 2014
As you may recall, I blogged here about how OFSTED had altered the comments, but not the grades, on a couple of inspection reports (and possibly done something similar to another 4 reports) and how they seemed to have stopped publishing new reports. This was after I had blogged (here) about how various reports, including the two altered ones, had contradicted the latest guidance. Although I could not be sure exactly what had happened, and I even had one HMI on Twitter suggest that the apparent absence of reports might be down to problems with the search engine or a result of the Christmas holiday, the details have now been confirmed in a report on the TES website.
…it has emerged that six school inspection reports published this month were retrospectively amended after their release, because they did not comply with Ofsted’s guidance.
The publication of the reports of all other inspections carried out before Christmas has also been put on hold to allow further checks for other errors, Ofsted told TES.
The report goes on to say:
An Ofsted spokesman told TES that it had made several minor changes to six reports, but no overall grades were affected. It had delayed publishing the reports of all other schools inspected before Christmas for “final quality assurance checks to confirm [inspectors] were following the latest published guidance, especially around teaching”.
“This exercise is now complete and the reports are expectedto [sic] appear on the website from early tomorrow onwards,” he added.
This raises some pretty serious questions. If anyone can find out the answers to the following, I’d be very interested.
1) Which are the 4 reports that have been altered that I haven’t identified, and what has been changed?
2) How were the 6 edited reports identified? We know that there were plenty or other reports that broke the guidance (I originally identified 5 such report but only 2 have been changed, and when I looked the following week a majority of the reports I found broke the guidance).
3) Is it a coincidence that the 2 reports that we know to have been altered, were ones where it looked as if the opinions about teaching style (which shouldn’t have been expressed) could have affected some of the grades given in the report, or even the overall grade?
4) If it is accepted that the reports were flawed, why are the grades still allowed to stand? It hardly seems fair to say the justifications for the grades were wrong but the grades were correct.
5) For those reports that have been held up for further checking, were the grades reviewed or only the wording?
6) Has anyone apologised to individual teachers or groups of teachers, who would have been criticised by inspectors for failing to comply with the approved teaching style? People’s careers will have been affected by the criticisms made during feedback and in the reports.
7) Is anyone involved in this colossal screw-up being disciplined for their part in this? I realise that the inspections were carried out before the latest guidance was issued, but the OFSTED handbook has said there was no preferred teaching style for well over a year now.
8) Do procedures even exist for dealing with inspection teams who judge according to the wrong criteria, particularly those employed by private companies paid to carry out inspections? There seems to be little accountability here for inspectors. At times it seems like the only people scrutinising OFSTED are bloggers.
9) Why has OFSTED recently published subject specific guidance which still suggests judging lessons (in subject surveys) on the basis of teaching style?
10) Is OFSTED of the view that the only issue here is one of “wording” and not one of flawed and unfair judgements? This is a critical question if inspectors are to be prevented from continuing to judge on the basis of teaching style and simply not mention in reports that they have done so.