Ofsted cull ‘stinks’, say axed inspectors

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This is an edited version of an article from the 16 October edition of TES. To read the full article and to subscribe to TES click here

Fresh doubts have emerged over the quality of Ofsted inspections, with the watchdog facing questions about the validity of the process it used to axe about 1,200 inspectors.

The inspectorate portrayed its decision to ditch 40 per cent of its contracted “additional” inspectors this summer as an important part of a major drive to improve the quality and consistency of its assessments.

But TES has learned that nearly 300 former inspectors who missed out are claiming they lost their positions through a flawed selection procedure that “stinks to high heaven”.

They argue there was no reason to reject them for the quality of their work. The former inspectors are aggrieved that Ofsted has refused to provide them with the results of the selection tests they took, citing the Data Protection Act.

Now their claims are prompting concerns from school leaders about the quality of the inspectors who did make it through.

Geoff Barton, headteacher of King Edward VI School in Suffolk, said: “Right from the outset, we’re going to have big question marks over who these people are who are going to be making some very big decision about our schools.

“It’s not going to do a lot for school leaders like me – who have a low view of Ofsted – to convince us that much has changed.”

Ofsted is also being asked to explain why it used inspectors who had failed the selection process to train and mentor the new cadre of Ofsted inspectors before they started visiting schools in September.

One rejected inspector told TES: “I have been an inspector for more than 15 years and I have never had any negative feedback. But following a two-hour online assessment, I was told my timekeeping wasn’t good enough and my editing not up to scratch.

“The whole thing stinks to high heaven. If they are so confident about their selection process then they should let us see their marking criteria.”

Caroline Nokes, an MP and a member of the Commons Education Select Committee, who has quizzed Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector Sir Michael Wilshaw on the issue, said she had “no confidence in the [selection] process whatsoever”.

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