Constant readiness for OfSTED has become day-to-day life for schools

Short notice inspections by OfSTED and constant readiness by schools to undergo scrutiny could lead to conditions for inspection success becoming the everyday norm in classrooms, according to research conducted by Dr Andrew Clapham.

hort notice inspections by OfSTED and constant readiness by schools to undergo scrutiny could lead to conditions for inspection success becoming the everyday norm in classrooms, according to schools inspection research conducted by Dr Andrew Clapham from the School of Education at Nottingham Trent University.

Following the accusation that some schools were 'putting on a show’ by Sir Michael Wilshaw, the Head of OfSTED, in 2013, Dr Clapham has explored the impact of the introduction of short notice inspections on the classroom.

As part of paper published in the British Educational Research Journal, Dr Clapham investigated inspection, performativity and fabrication within the context of two English schools, speaking to teachers at the beginning and nearing the end of their careers.

Teachers want to be the best they can for themselves and their students and don't plan lessons just to fit an 'outstanding' template.

Dr Andrew Clapham, School of Education

SHe said: "OfSTED's introduction of short notice inspections ensured that the schools in question could not game the system just for the time period leading up to an inspection. The schools and the teachers in the study were constantly ready for inspection, with the result that fabricated conditions for inspection success actually became the day-to-day conditions of their working lives.

"This is a pattern which could be repeated across the country as school leaders and teachers work in permanent readiness for an OfSTED inspection. Evidence suggests that teachers invest emotional, physical and intellectual capital into the perpetual readiness needed for a high-stakes inspection process, an investment which was anything other than putting on a show.

"In fact, the majority of teachers want to be the best they can for themselves and their students and don't plan lessons just to fit an 'outstanding' template.

The inspection framework is a changing one in England. For example, short notice inspections were introduced by OfSTED in 2012, however, schools can also be inspected over two or three days of visits with two days' notice. These models replaced the previous inspection process where schools were given two months to prepare for inspection. Earlier this month, Sir Michael highlighted the move away from no-notice inspections.

Constant readiness for OfSTED has become day-to-day life for schools

Published on 3 November 2014
  • Category: Research; Nottingham Institute of Education

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