From January 2012, Ofsted
will use new inspection methods that could make it harder for schools to be rated outstanding.
The announcement comes after the Education Secretary, Michael Gove, raised concerns about the current system. He stated, “It is a worry to me that so many schools are still judged as ‘Outstanding’ overall when they have not achieved an ‘Outstanding’ in teaching and learning.”
The new rules centre on reducing the number of inspection catego-ries from six to four. This will mean a shift away from self evaluation and administration towards education itself. The focus will now be on areas such as pupils’ behaviour and the quality of teaching.
Other changes include new online parent surveys and less frequent inspections for successful schools. Ofsted’s chief inspector, Miriam Rosen, said she believed the new changes would make it “more dif-ficult to achieve the accolade of Outstanding”.
The changes appear to have pro-voked controversy with teachers. The NAHT secretary, Russell Hobby said, “the real concern of schools is not the framework but the application – the quality and consistency of the inspection teams themselves. The damage from a rogue inspector can be significant.”
Hobby’s questioning of inspectors casts doubt on how effective the Government’s changes will be. Whilst Michael Gove and Ofsted believe the new rules will change schools’ ratings, it’s clear that many believe the inspectors themselves are the only ones able to make a difference.