To Ofsted or not to Ofsted

Those of us who work in education understand that we must be held to account for the performance of our children and young people. We may not like the OFSTEDs of this world but we are realistic about their existence and the demands that they will place on schools and colleges.

It is with this in mind that I read that 1010 outstanding schools have not been inspected for over a decade. I’m not sure what the word ‘Outstanding’, in the OFSTED context, actually means, however it cannot be right that we have a system which inspects schools and colleges over and over again, sometimes two or three times in a year, and then misses other schools year on year, and even decade to decade.

If we are serious as a system about ensuring that all schools are at a particular standard we should see all schools inspected regularly, not see some left to one side, as a consequence of an outdated judgement, made under a different framework. We either inspect schools or we do not.

I am not particularly keen on the ‘perception’ of what OFSTED might bring, and perception is often worse than the reality, however I recognise that the inspection framework exists and as school leaders we have to accept the way in which they work. What’s good enough for me should be good enough for us all though. Are we, by leaving some schools to one side, saying that circumstances haven’t changed, leaders haven’t changed, teachers haven’t changed and our pupils haven’t changed? It is inconceivable that the schools, which haven’t been inspected, won’t have seen a shift in some aspect or element of their work.

And even if inspected institutions remain ‘Outstanding’, then shouldn’t the system that exists for others recognise their continued excellence?

I don’t call for OFSTED and I’m not calling for OFSTED to come in and work with us, all I’m asking for is that for is that the system is not only seen to be fair but for the system to be truly fair for all schools and colleges.

It has been a tough week yet we can going to the weekend in the understanding that our collective endeavours have meant that the school has remained a calm and purposeful place of learning. The weather hasn’t been kind to us but we’ve got through it together. We should recognise our achievements and we can feel some pride at our work.

 ‘I never understand when people say, ‘School days are the best of your life.’ So it’s all downhill from 16? How depressing.’ Marsha Thomason