Two-thirds of governors satisfied with new inspection arrangements

13 Apr

During the autumn term 2019, the National Governors’ Association (NGA) collected the views and experiences of governing boards on the Education Inspection Framework (EIF). It also analysed 844 published inspection reports of that period to examine how the EIF was working.

Governors happier with new inspections

Two-thirds (64.6%) of respondents were satisfied with the inspections overall. This matched the responses that Ofsted had.   Altogether, 71.9% of governors who responded felt that Ofsted’s ratings of their schools and academies were correct.  The majority also thought that the feedback meetings from the inspectors (following inspections) were beneficial and gave them a better understanding of why they had been rated as they were. Altogether, 75.7% were either very satisfied or satisfied with the feedback.  However, many felt that the inspections had become more rushed.  They thought that inspections were covering “a huge amount of work in a very short space of time”.

Also, they rued the fact that the scrutiny on the role of governors was diminished.  Only 15.8% of respondents said the inspections had helped them to improve the quality of governing.  Because of the increased focus on the curriculum, it appeared that the new framework tended to blur the distinction between governance and management.

Several governors were disappointed that inspectors’ reports occasionally failed to assess governance.   The variation was unfortunate.  Of the 844 reports, 66.4% mentioned governance.  Several reports referred to governance only in a tokenistic way.  The governor-respondents were of the view that inspectors’ reports on the work they did were too simplistic and occasionally patronising.  Overall, 82.6% said that these judgements did not link the curriculum with governance.

For governing in a Multi-Academy Trust (MAT), governors thought that inspectors had a better understanding of the multiple layers of overseeing and running institutions.  About 75% of inspectors were now interviewing MAT trustees.

However, according to the governors it appeared that inspectors paid far too little attention to the financial health of the school/academy vis-à-vis securing enough finances, probity and the promotion of value for money.  It appeared that finance was confused with curricular planning.

The EIF is currently going through an evaluation process during which the NGA intends to put its oar in to improve matters.

Routine inspections suspended during the Covid-19 pandemic

The Secretary of State for Education, Gavin Williamson, permitted Ofsted to suspend inspections owing to the Covid-19 pandemic.  However, Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector (HMCI), Amanda Spielman, signalled that where specific concerns were raised – especially vis-à-vis the safety of children – inspections would go ahead.  Regulatory work to maintain social care provision for the most vulnerable children and the registration of vital childcare services would also continue.

Ofsted will not be publishing reports from recent inspections of schools, academies, further education and early years provision, until institutions re-open and children and students return to them.  However, the watchdog will continue to publish “a small number of reports from recent social care inspections”. Ofsted also reserved the right to inspect in emergency situations, especially if it received complaints or whistle-blowing information that suggested children could be at risk of harm.




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