20 January 2017

Amendment of Ofsted Inspection Judgements

In the last three years Ofsted has amended only four school inspection judgements as a result of complaints received.

This information was revealed by Ofsted in a Freedom of Information response to FOI By Proxy.

A school teacher, who wishes to be known as Sylvester, got in touch with us and suggested that it would be interesting to see how often Ofsted amended the final judgement of school inspections when it received complaints about their conduct.

A standard school inspection, conducted under section 5 of the Education Act 2005, takes place over two days. Inspectors gather evidence by observing lessons, daily routine, scrutinising documentation and interviewing staff, pupils and governors. Parents are also asked to contribute their opinions of the school via an online questionnaire known as Parent View.

Schools are judged on the following aspects:
  • Effectiveness of leadership and management.
  • Quality of teaching, learning and assessment.
  • Personal development, behaviour and welfare.
  • Outcomes for pupils.
Schools with an early years provision are also judged on that; those with post-16 provision are judged on that. Ofsted also reports an overall effectiveness judgement for each school inspected.

Sylvester works at a school that was previously judged as "Outstanding" by Ofsted, but was recently regraded as "Requires Improvement" under the latest schools inspection framework. It is a large secondary school in a fairly deprived town in the north of England. The number of students with special educational needs and in receipt of free school meals is well above the national average, but the school is recognised as providing a good quality of education for learners of all abilities.

He told us the following: "We're all devastated at the final verdict of the inspection, which we don't feel is a true reflection of our performance as a school. We are just as effective as we were when we were judged Outstanding, but the goalposts have moved around us. I honestly believe that the inspectors made the report fit their unjust preconceptions."

Sylvester is very much of the opinion that the inspectors were blinkered by a recent dip in exam results, even though the school had a very credible explanation for the temporary downturn. At the time he got in touch, senior leaders and governors were considering whether or not to make a complaint to Ofsted about the conduct of the inspection.

It has to be said that Ofsted is not a particularly easy organisation to get information from. We initially asked for the names of schools where the inspection judgements had been amended as a result of complaints received. Ofsted refused to provide that information on the basis that doing so would draw negative attention to the inspectors concerned.

Begrudgingly we refined our request, so that it only sought information about the number of inspection judgements that had been amended as a result of complaints received.

The full text of our request appears below:

Public Authority:

Their Reference Number:

Request by FOI By Proxy (sent 23rd December 2016):
Dear Ofsted,

Please consider this as a request for information in accordance with section 1 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

Please provide the following information held by Ofsted:
The number of section 5 inspections where the original judgement has been amended as part of the formal complaints process, during the period 1 April 2013 to 31 March 2016, broken down by month.

In accordance with section 11 of the Act, please provide your response in electronic format to the return email address associated with this request.

Many thanks for your assistance with this matter.

Yours faithfully,

On behalf of FOI By Proxy

Response by Ofsted (received 18th January 2017):
Ofsted provided the following response:
  • September 2013: Two section 5 inspection judgements were amended as a result of complaints received.
  • November 2013: One section 5 inspection judgement was amended as a result of a complaint received.
  • September 2014: One section 5 inspection judgement was amended as a result of a complaint received.
Ofsted had previously advised us that it would only be able to provide relevant information between 1 April 2013 and 31 March 2016, hence the timeframe given in our refined request.

Supporting Material:
You can view Ofsted's letter of response here.

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