Latest Public Sector News


Ofsted to inspect schools twice on the same day

Ofsted plans to inspect some schools twice on the same day to test the reliability of its own inspectors’ findings.

The education watchdog will pilot the double inspections this term, which will see inspectors compare their findings to see if they have reached the same conclusions.

If the pilot proves successful, the method could be included in a new inspection framework from September for schools previously rated ‘good’.

On 31 December, Sean Harford, national director for schools at Ofsted, responded to a blogpost from head teacher Tom Sherrington and admitted that the watchdog has “not done enough in the past to test the reliability of inspection”.

He added: “I have built in reliability testing for the pilots for the new short inspections this term. If reliability is a problem, we will review the issues to see what we need to do to make the inspections reliable.”

An Ofsted spokesperson elaborated on the plans saying to test the reliability of the new short inspections, which Ofsted recently introduced for schools previously rated ‘good’. Consultative trials were conducted in schools in the autumn term.

"Feedback was positive and we will carry out pilots to test the shorter inspections across a range of schools in the spring term,” the spokesperson added.

"Reliability of the short inspection methodology will be tested during the pilots by two HMIs independently inspecting the same school on the same day and comparing the judgments."

However, teachers’ unions have slammed the plans, with the National Union of Teachers (NUT) going as far as to call for the abolition of the watchdog.

Kevin Courtney, deputy general secretary, said: “The admission that Ofsted cannot guarantee the reliability and consistency of its inspection teams and judgements on schools is a disgrace.

"The NUT has long been saying that Ofsted judgements on schools were unreliable and that the system of school accountability in England requires root and branch reform.

"Ofsted should be abolished and a new system of school accountability based on school self-evaluation, school-to-school collaboration and support and a role for democratic local authorities put in its place. In the meantime there must be an external review of Ofsted's operation and judgements.”

He added that inspecting schools twice would “merely punishing schools for Ofsted's failings” rather than correct flaws in the system.

The Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) said the question of reliability had dogged Ofsted since it was set up and that it was “incomprehensible” it had taken 23 years before it addressed the issue.

Mary Bousted, the union’s general secretary, also questioned why Ofsted was not opening itself up to external evaluation of reliability trials if it as robust about quality assurance as it claims.

Sean Hartford said: “The validity of inspection judgements is of the utmost importance to Ofsted.

“We go to great lengths, through our existing quality assurance process, to ensure that inspectors make judgements which are rigorously based on the evidence gathered.

“It is frustrating that our attempts to enter a genuine debate about how we might improve still further our approach are being used to score cheap points about Ofsted’s work.”

Tell us what you think – have your say below or email


There are no comments. Why not be the first?

Add your comment



public sector executive tv

more videos >

last word

Prevention: Investing for the future

Prevention: Investing for the future

Rob Whiteman, CEO at the Chartered Institute of Public Finance (CIPFA), discusses the benefits of long-term preventative investment. Rising demand, reducing resource – this has been the r more > more last word articles >

public sector focus

View all News


Peter Kyle MP: It’s time to say thank you this Public Service Day

21/06/2019Peter Kyle MP: It’s time to say thank you this Public Service Day

Taking time to say thank you is one of the hidden pillars of a society. Bei... more >
How community-led initiatives can help save the housing shortage

19/06/2019How community-led initiatives can help save the housing shortage

Tom Chance, director at the National Community Land Trust Network, argues t... more >


Artificial intelligence: the devil is in the data

17/12/2018Artificial intelligence: the devil is in the data

It’s no secret that the public sector and its service providers need ... more >

the raven's daily blog

Northern Powerhouse Partner aims to connect the North once again

02/09/2019Northern Powerhouse Partner aims to connect the North once again

In February this year, official Northern Powerhouse Partner, Cognitive Publishing, delivered EvoNorth 2019.  The two day event was designed to amplify and highlight futur... more >
read more blog posts from 'the raven' >

editor's comment

25/10/2017Take a moment to celebrate

Devolution, restructuring and widespread service reform: from a journalist’s perspective, it’s never been a more exciting time to report on the public sector. That’s why I could not be more thrilled to be taking over the reins at PSE at this key juncture. There could not be a feature that more perfectly encapsulates this feeling of imminent change than the article James Palmer, mayor of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, has penned for us on p28. In it, he highlights... read more >