What exactly is Ofsted for?

Ofsted is under immense scrutiny at the moment, not least because there is no clear evidence to prove that its inspections improve the standards of education, says Dr Mary Bousted

I recently went to the House of Commons to appear before the Public Accounts Committee to talk about Ofsted. The MPs on the committee wanted to quiz me, and the other witnesses, following the publication of a National Audit Office (NAO) report on Ofsted’s inspection of schools.

It is more than likely that the vast majority of teachers have never heard of this report. It did not get widely reported. And that is a shame, because the report is the first independent evaluation of Ofsted since it came into existence in 1992.

The NAO examines whether Ofsted’s approach to inspecting schools is providing value for money. In answer to this question the NAO reaches a startling conclusion which is, (in words quoted directly from the report): “Ofsted does not know whether its school inspections are having the intended impact: to raise the standards of education and improve the quality of children’s and young people’s lives.”

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