A recent article by Prof Frank Coffield claims ‘Ofsted’s methods are invalid, unreliable and unjust’. He goes on to say that ‘Inspection has a legitimate and necessary role in education. My aim is to move it from a concentration on summative assessment (judging the measurable outputs of education such as test results) towards a balance of both formative (improving the quality of teaching, learning and assessment) and summative assessment. That shift needs to be based on educational principles such as education seen as growth (do students leave college as lifelong learners?), trust rather than fear, challenge matched by support provided by Ofsted, dialogue, and appreciative inquiry, which gives pride of place to everything that gives life to a college when it is at its most effective’.
As an ex HMI for Estyn (the Welsh equivalent of OFSTED), I can support many of his views and observations. Estyn has actually moved to introduce some of the changes he is proposing, however, everything I read about the way OFSTED work suggests they still have a long way to go in order to cultivate and support meaningful change that is owned and embraced by all. Rightly or wrongly the inspection system (in England in particular it seems) generates fear and anger in many of the teachers who are subject to the process. Requirements are generated that teachers have little ownership of, hence responses are often half-hearted (a really interesting phrase to think about) and bring about little change to the fundamental ethos and ‘soul’ of the organisation.