Education & Family

'Cut and paste' Ofsted report claims

Image caption An Ofsted inspection can change a school's reputation

An investigation has begun into claims that Ofsted approved "cut and paste" inspection reports using identical sentences and phrases.

Two primary schools were placed in special measures following the reports describing "inadequate" standards, the TES reports.

Ofsted is looking at whether Belvedere Junior School in Kent and Malmesbury Primary School in east London were treated unfairly.

But it stands by the overall verdicts.

The reports on the two schools repeat a number of sentences verbatim and key passages differ by only one or two words, according to the Times Educational Supplement.

'Schools' fate'

Both schools were visited by a team with the same lead inspector who works for Tribal, a company contracted by Ofsted to carry out inspections.

And both reports say: "Some teachers do not plan learning for pupils at their different levels of ability and marking is not leading to improvement."

Both reports make comments about the low attainment of pupils in reading, writing and maths which vary by just a few words.

Belvedere was inspected in January, with the report, which judged the school should be put into special measures, published in March.

Malmesbury was inspected in March, with the report declaring it inadequate and requiring special measures, published a month later.

National Association of Head Teachers general secretary Russell Hobby said he had heard anecdotal reports of "cut and paste" reports, adding such a practice was "not acceptable given that the fate of the school rests on what is written."

The union's head of research Lesley Gannon said the problem lay in part with the formulaic evaluation schedule which Ofsted inspectors obey.

She claimed reports were re-written by a moderator who has never been to the school to check that the descriptions fit the grades described in Ofsted guidelines.

She added: "That is the pattern we are seeing and it's very worrying.

"Inspectors just cut and paste, regurgitating wording from the evaluation schedule.

"Therefore the reports are often more similar than they are individual. We want the best inspectors to be able to freestyle a little bit more."

'Rigorously investigated'

An Ofsted spokeswoman said: "Both inspection reports were subject to moderation by Ofsted and we stand by the judgments they record.

"We are concerned by the similarity of some of the wording used in the two reports and this is being looked into with the inspector concerned."

In a statement, Tribal said it aims to ensure that reports "reflect the uniqueness of schools".

"Tribal stands by the judgments in these two particular reports," it said.

"Similarities noted in some of the wording caused concern and are being rigorously investigated. If proven, Tribal will take swift action to stop using the inspector again."

Belvedere Junior School said it was in discussion with Ofsted over the reports, but Malmbesbury School did not wish to comment.

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