Policy Exchange has published its report on Ofsted, which proposes an overhaul of its inspection model. The report raises concerns about the number of Ofsted inspectors employed part-time by private firms, and the lack experience inspectors often have of primary teaching or special needs training. There are a number of bold recommendations in the report, most notably for Ofsted to move to a two-tier form of inspection. The report suggests that the bulk of visits for each school should be carried out by a solo inspector every two years – rather than high-profile visits by a team every three to five years – with tailored inspections for those schools that are identified as a “risk”.
The report was already a subject of controversy long before it had been published, when earlier this year HM Chief Inspector Sir Michael Wilshaw was reported to be “displeased, shocked, angry and outraged” by what he claimed were attempts from the Department for Education to brief against Ofsted, partly using this research by Policy Exchange – a think tank that Education Secretary Michael Gove helped to set up.
Olly from PSI: The schools inspection regime has been entrenched for decades and has always proven extremely difficult to reform because the inspectorate itself is resistant to change, while teachers and schools are unwilling to see a system they have grown familiar with overhauled. However, were Policy Exchange’s proposals to find their way into the Conservative’s 2015 manifesto – then a future Conservative Government could claim a mandate for change if they won the next General Elections. Many ifs, while the but is that this could be a reform too far if schools leaders do not back these embryonic proposals.