Arnold Hill Academy Responds to the OFSTED ShamblesJanuary 26, 2014
I don’t know whether to take this to indicate that OFSTED are willing to revise the judgements, rather than just the wording, from their December 2013 inspections (something I have argued should be happening) or simply as an indicator that OFSTED is now in such a state that schools think it’s worth pre-emptively dismissing what they say. Nor do I know anything about this school (and while I’m happy to hear anecdotally what it’s like by email, I’m not planning to allow a discussion of that in the comments on this post).
However, this statement appears on the website of Arnold Hill Academy and the tone strikes me as the only sane way for schools to respond to what’s going on. It also raises questions about just what OFSTED are up to at the moment. (Thanks to @KateKelly20 for pointing this out to me.)
Ofsted admit their own inspection process is flawed!
Staff and Governors at Arnold Hill Academy were surprised recently when the Ofsted Regional Director for the East Midlands, Louise Soden, admitted in a letter to the Principal that the Ofsted inspection of the Academy before Christmas had been “flawed”.
This expression of concern about the quality and practice of Ofsted’s inspection of Arnold Hill Academy has come at a time when the watchdog has come under wide criticism for changing a number of schools’ inspection reports because they contradicted their own official guidance. Ofsted admitted recently to the Times Educational Supplement (TES) that “…the reports of all other inspections carried out before Christmas [have] also been put on hold to allow further checks for errors”
There then follows a link, which doesn’t seem to be working, which is presumably intended to be for this article.
Arnold Hill Academy had a subject-based inspection in July 2012 and was judged by Ofsted to have ‘Outstanding’ achievement, curriculum, leadership and management. A previous Ofsted inspection in September 2010 judged Arnold Hill to be a ‘Good’ school.
Ofsted inspected Arnold Hill Academy on 5th and 6th December 2013 and were expected to have published their report within 15 working days of this inspection. However, Ofsted’s decision to now delay publication of their report amidst concerns over the quality of their own judgements and practices is causing unnecessary anxiety amongst pupils, staff and the wider community.
Having deemed the initial Ofsted inspection as “flawed” a follow up visit was made to the school on Monday 13th January and the Academy are currently awaiting written feedback following that visit. The Chair of Governors, Nigel Bradley, said “We have always valued Ofsted as an agent of change however we are concerned that Ofsted now regard their own practice as ‘flawed’. The initial inspection in December provided what we felt was an accurate reflection of where the Academy’s strengths and weaknesses lie.”
On Thursday 16th January Arnold Hill Academy submitted a detailed complaint to Ofsted regarding their concerns around the impact of Ofsted’s indecision, conduct and inconsistency on the school community. Ofsted have acknowledged receipt of this complaint but not yet responded to the Academy other than stating merely that they will “aim to send a response….no later than 3rd March 2014”.
Robin Fugill, Principal at Arnold Hill Academy said “We recognise that Ofsted’s delays may cause staff, pupils and parents anxiety so we will ensure they are kept up to date with developments on a regular basis”.
I think there is an issue here in that a lot of the consequences of OFSTED inspections stem from the reaction of the governors and local community to an inspection report. If it is now widely known that the inspection system is a shambles, then that reaction may be very different.