Education & Family

Ofsted purges 1,200 'not good enough' inspectors

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Image caption Ofsted inspections can decide the future path of a school

Ofsted is ditching 1,200 school and college inspectors after assessing them as not good enough to judge schools.

The move by England's education inspectorate is part of its plan to improve quality and consistency, and bring inspections in-house.

Ofsted had been using about 3,000 additional inspectors, contracted through inspection service providers.

Teachers have long complained about inspection quality, but Ofsted insists it does not mean it is substandard.

Speaking to the Times Educational Supplement, Sir Robin Bosher, Ofsted's head of quality and training, said the organisation wanted to have high quality inspectors.

'Not up to the job'

He said: "I am committed to making sure that my colleagues in headship can be assured they have a good inspector walking up the path. I'm determined that will happen."

But National Association of Head Teachers general secretary Russell Hobby said: "You look back and say, for the last few years we've been inspected by a group where 40% weren't up to the job.

"If Sir Michael Wilshaw had done this from the start, we would have avoided everything that has followed.

"If people could say, 'It's tough but fair,' then fine, but it was tough and unfair and tackling that should have been a priority."

Sir Michael announced last year that Ofsted would no longer use such "additional inspectors". These are inspectors employed by one of three private firms which are contracted to supply inspection services to Ofsted.

There have been numerous complaints that many of these inspectors did not have the relevant teaching or leadership experience.

Ofsted said of the 3,000 additional inspectors it was using, 2,800 had expressed an interest in becoming in-house Ofsted inspectors.

'Behind the curve'

This number was then whittled down to 1,600 through a "robust assessment" process.

Sir Robin, who has overseen the process, said one of the key reasons for rejecting so many inspectors was that they lacked skill in writing reports.

An Ofsted spokesman said the inspectorate was taking the opportunity of making improvements to its workforce because contracts with its services providers were coming to an end. The new directly employed inspectors would be in post by September 2015.

He added: "We stand by the inspections that we have done in the last few years.

"The teaching profession is always being asked to improve and reform, and Ofsted is no different.

"We see an opportunity to improve our services and we are going to take it."

He added that this move should not be seen as an admission that its inspections were substandard.

Dr Mary Bousted, general secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL), said: "It is unacceptable that these inspectors have been judging school quality - and coming to conclusions which, too often, lack validity or reliability.

"Ofsted is consistently behind the curve - tinkering with an inspection system which is no longer fit for purpose. As the CBI today argues, we need radical reform of inspection to enable the development of innovation and creativity in our schools."

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