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Ofsted seeks the governance view

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61 ARTICLE Ofsted v2

Have you been involved in a recent Ofsted inspection and, if so, what feedback would you give about the process?

Sitr Martyn Oliver

Ofsted says it's determined that tragedies such as the death of headteacher Ruth Perry should never happen again and no one should feel as Ruth did. 

New Chief Inspector, Sir Martyn Oliver, says that its 'Big Listen' consultation is part of its ambition to improve and be a modern, world-class inspectorate and regulator. 

We caught up with Sir Martyn to find out how important the governance view is to the consultation and why he's encouraging those working or volunteering in governance to get involved. 

You're keen to hear from governors and trustees as part of The Big Listen, why is that?

Yes, we definitely want to hear governors and trustees. They're an integral part of every school and college community and play a really important role during inspection. More importantly they do great work upholding high standards and providing constructive challenge throughout the school year. I would encourage all governors and trustees to complete our consultation to help us improve the way we work with the areas we inspect and regulate.

Should volunteers share the survey with their boards to make sure more of those involved provide feedback?

Yes, we’re encouraging everyone who works in education or care, or who have children at school, to get involved and reply to the consultation. That includes volunteers, and anyone else who is interested in raising standards in education and care, and ensuring the best life chances for all children. Because that’s what our job is about and we want to hear from as many people as possible about how we can do it better. The more people we hear from, the better.

Do you want to hear from governance professionals (those who clerk meetings or those who manage governance across a trust)?

Yes, clerks and other governance professionals have a unique insight into how governing boards interact with Ofsted inspectors. I would encourage them to respond to the consultation, thinking particularly about what information and guidance about inspections is helpful for governing boards to know, and how Ofsted can best provide them with that information. So that we can all work together to help schools improve.

There are people working and volunteering in governance who feel there should be more emphasis on governance in an Ofsted report (as was more common previously).

I’ve been very clear that every voice will be heard and nothing is off the table. If we can present information differently in our reports, carry out our inspections differently or if you think there are other things we should consider on inspection, to help schools do their best for pupils, then I want to hear about it. We will listen to all the feedback, including criticism. Ideas for small changes and big reforms are welcome.

The survey asks some questions about whether Ofsted should inspect areas where it currently has no remit, such as the ability to inspect groups (multi-academy trusts, dioceses etc). Why is it important to explore the broader remit of Ofsted's work?

We’re thinking strategically about where Ofsted can offer the most value to the providers it inspects, so we’d welcome feedback from governors as to whether they think inspections at a Trust or Diocese level would be helpful. The Big Listen is an opportunity to explore where our work can have the biggest and best impact on the sectors we inspect, always keeping in mind that children, and their education and care, are our top priority.

The survey is just part of the listening exercise as I understand it? You're also holding focus groups - will you be holding focus groups with any governors or trustees at all?

We’ve commissioned two independent organisations, NatCen and IFF Research, to support the Big Listen through independent surveys and focus groups with the public, parents and professionals, including governors. And we’ve also partnered with other organisations to hold focus groups with  children in care and children in the youth justice system.

How are you reaching parents and other stakeholders to make sure they also give feedback?

We have been promoting the consultation on social media, and you might have read about it in newspapers or seen me being interviewed on TV. Our staff have also been talking about it all the events and conferences we attend and present at up and down the country. We want as much help as possible. So I would really encourage governors to promote the consultation to parents and children if they can.

Do people give their details when submitting responses?

No, the consultation is completely anonymous.


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Comments

  • michaelskgrant 25 Apr 2024, 19:51 (24 days ago)

    I was a Chair of Governors at a secondary school which was part of an Academy Trust.As I was called in I felt just as much pressure as any of the teachers. The atmosphere was tense and the Academy Trust CEO spent most of her time calming the staff. Having held senior positions in global companies for many years the pressure was perhaps greater that day than at work.
    Fortunately the inspection went well and staff were well briefed and prepared. As a Governor now in a Junior school and as a 'volunteer 'I hope that I wont personally have to relive that horrible day.

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  • Vanessa Baxter 25 Apr 2024, 17:16 (25 days ago)

    We were inspected just half a term after our new head teacher started work at the school. I feel that it was very unfair to schedule an inspection so soon after their arrival as they had not had time to begin to make an impact and, had the inspection taken place just a term later, the school could have been rated as good rather than requires improvement.
    The one meeting by the inspector with all of the governors was well conducted and the inspector was seen as professional and approachable.

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  • Graham Leah 25 Apr 2024, 11:46 (25 days ago)

    The recent inspection seemed to begin on a negative note. The staff had a perception that the inspectors had established negative views. The inspection team was not always polite or sensitive to both staff and pupils. One inspector was simply rude. This is evidenced by written complaints from several pupils.
    If inspections are to move from percieved 'headhunting' to constructive criticism, then a significant number of inspectors need retraining. Whilst 'customer service' may not be an appropriate model, inspections are supposed to assist in pupils education by improving schools. My recent experience suggested that 'tearing down' was more the focus rather than 'building up'.
    As commented by many, a one word judgement is inadequate in a comples learning environment. Parents who are concerned in the school's performance and its relevance to their child may progress past the one word judgement to read on. They will then bump into a further tier of one word judgements. As a parent i find this dispiriting and find comments describe a shambolic establishment unrecognised by pupils, parents, staff and by governors.
    I find that Ofsted in its current form is not fit for purpose and requires a fundemental refresh of its objectives and methods.

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  • Sutton Brown 25 Apr 2024, 09:56 (25 days ago)

    In light of Ruth's sad passing which affected all of us in the education sector, I would like to reflect briefly on the Ofsted system and what government can do.

    I'm of the view that the 'one word judgement' doesn't tell the full story, the full achievement of the amazing work going on in our schools.
    The improvement in educational attainment and overall standards of education happen whilst there is a funding crisis in schools. This funding crisis is taking place in many schools due to the ever increasing spending of vast sums of money to allow children with special educational needs (SEN) to have equal access to the curriculum as any other children.

    This is a particular challenge faced by school leaders requiring government intervention (e.g. creating many more special schools in local areas).

    Furthermore, we ask that Ofsted take into consideration the exceptional challenges faced by school.

    I trust this is useful in sharing the future of education.

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  • Chris Fordham 25 Apr 2024, 08:11 (25 days ago)

    The input of governors as part of the school’s management and leadership should be given more of an acknowledgment. As volunteers, this frequently feels like a totally thankless task. An acknowledgment from Ofsted to the contribution of governors would go along way to helping them feel valued.

    A better understanding from Ofsted of the challenges that very small rural schools have in meeting the Ofsted requirement to show how the curriculum is adequately sequenced and planned. Too often, inspectors seem to have very little first or second hand understanding of the challenges that the framework imposes on school staff as well as managing their day to day workload. Across the board, inspectors need better training in how to assess and monitor this.

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  • Stephen Preece 25 Apr 2024, 08:03 (25 days ago)

    Replace the one word final assessment with a summary paragraph including 3 areas of strengths and 3 areas for further development ( improvement)

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