The submission can be downloaded from the Prospect library here (website login required.)
Steve Thomas, Prospect national secretary, writes:
Ofsted has, in the past, gravitated to the current model for inspection that in effect measures what is easily measurable. The proposals in the consultation clearly indicate a change of direction with the laudable intention of rewarding teaching that values real substance of education and not simply the data outcomes.
Prospect welcomes this, however, in our response to consultation we have expressed concerns that the introduction of a ‘quality of education’ judgement places significant reliance on inspectors interpreting broad, value laden terminology in a consistent way.
In addition we believe that for a ‘quality of education’ judgement to be successful there needs to be work done to ensure that inspection does not simply move from being ‘data-driven’ to ‘sequenced-driven’.
It would be a lost opportunity if a new inspection regime discourages teachers from working creatively in pursuit of programmed learning that they have no autonomy to deviate from.
The expectations of inspectors, who witness inspirational teaching that is not easily pigeon-holed into a sequenced curriculum, must be made clear and Ofsted must engage with inspectors and their trade unions to provide support through training and guidance to ensure that consistent approaches are adopted.
Prospect represents both self-employed consultants who carry out inspections and directly employed inspectors, and our members carry out inspections in schools and Early Years settings. We also represent a range of professionals that have an interest in the outcomes of Ofsted inspections. Standardising a new approach across inspectors and consultation will not be easy, and consultation with the professionals who undertake inspections will be absolutely crucial to delivering this effective change.
Finally, while we have responded to the consultation in broadly positive terms, progress in areas like inspection runs the risk of being marginalised by a chronic lack of funding across education. This is not only a question of funding for schools but for other local authorities services like education welfare support and schools improvement, which are provided by a tier of education professionals who have seen their posts cut to the bone.