'Championing the rights of children'

Ofsted inspections need redesign, not dramatic change, says Policy Exchange

Garry Wed 19 Mar 2014 13:46

Authors urge greater use of school performance data and shorter, lower-profile inspections.

The thinktank that triggered a spat between the education secretary, Michael Gove, and the Ofsted chief, Sir Michael Wilshaw, has recommended a "fundamental redesign" of the way schools in England are inspected, with greater use of data and shorter inspections to make it more responsive.

Initial reports had suggested that the Policy Exchange review – to be published on Monday – would be deeply critical of Ofsted, after asking if the regulator was "fit for purpose" in its call for submissions.

The speculation led Wilshaw to complain of efforts to undermine him, saying he was "spitting blood", causing Gove to issue a statement supporting him.

The paper's authors – Harriet Waldegrave and Jonathan Simons – however, have produced a fine-grained series of recommendations that avoid dramatic change. They urge Ofsted to update its approach by systematically using school performance data, and to become more rigorous in its hiring and training of frontline staff.

The Policy Exchange writers also broke with Department for Education orthodoxy by calling for Ofsted to be given power to inspect the management of academy chains – groups of academies and free schools overseen by a single corporate body. Ministers and the DfE have consistently rejected that move, despite a recommendation from Wilshaw and the Commons' education committee.

Read more... (The Guardian - 17 March)