Last month I wrote a post about my exasperation at the inconsistency and unfairness of Ofsted reports, which I backed up with communications to the PM and various government ministers. (Read Are Ofsted Off The Mark? for more).
Thank you for all of you who read this post (a record number) and those of you who commented via my Twitter account @blogsbyjoy If only politicians had been as forthcoming with their responses!
After much delay, I finally received a reply from the Department For Education, washing their hands of the whole affair. It seems they really don’t care how unfair some of the Ofsted reports that schools receive really are, their basic belief is, “It’s nothing to do with us!”
Here is an extract from their email to me:
“I should explain that Ofsted is an independent, non-ministerial government department, and therefore I am unable to comment on their processes. If you have not already done so, you may wish to follow the Ofsted complaints procedure which you can find details of on the Ofsted website at: www.ofsted.gov.uk/contact-us/how-complain<http://www.ofsted.gov.uk/contact-us/how-complain”.
Now, I don’t care how ‘independent’ Ofsted are reported to be, someone has to be responsible for overseeing their conduct. It’s not acceptable for them to be self-regulating as they are so obviously flawed! Reports are inconsistent, they don’t respond well to parents’ views and concerns and many inspectors appear out of touch with what students, parents and teachers really want and need!
I would also like to point out, that in my original email (which had been addressed to the PM) I had explained that I’d already attempted to complain to Ofsted – on at least three occasions! I had been mostly ignored and on the final occasion purely received an empty promise that was never followed up. Is it any wonder that I’m so totally exasperated?
I’ve also been appalled to hear about a school that had been investigated and flagged as a problem by the local council, following parents’ complaints of harsh treatment of young pupils, recently being given a ‘good’ report by Ofsted. Work that one out! It appears that the school was made an academy during the initial investigations, meaning that the council report could then be disregarded, although gross misconduct of staff at the school had been declared! The police were also involved yet sadly could not gather enough evidence to press the case. But what the hell were Ofsted inspectors thinking to add insult to injury by issuing a good report?
And so the fight goes on. Ofsted is completely overdue an independent review. If the government doesn’t give a damn, then perhaps an investigative journalist or current affairs programme would like to step in and get to the bottom of the whole debacle.
Until such a time, I believe that more good schools will be ‘written off’ for all the wrong reasons, whilst some of those that treat students and parents appallingly, will get glowing reports because they’ve managed to tick the right boxes on forms!
Please join the fight to review Ofsted by approaching your local MP or the culprits themselves, or tweeting me using the hashtag #OfstedNoConfidence If enough of us make a noise, hopefully something will change!