Ofsted reliability study is welcome – but limited

Ofsted’s first attempt at testing the reliability of inspection outcomes has yielded seemingly positive results. However, with notable limitations to the research, calls for an independent investigation into the reliability and validity of Ofsted judgements have become louder. Pete Henshaw reports

It has long been an adage of the education profession: your school’s inspection outcome depends on the inspector you get, with trade union conference halls often being filled with stories of nightmare inspections and unjust outcomes.

Myth or not, Ofsted has come under increasing pressure to prove the reliability of its inspectors and system of inspection.

As a result, Ofsted last week reported the results of the first study of its kind into inspection outcomes – with notably positive headline findings.

However, the report has been criticised for a very small, primary-only sample size as well as other limitations that critics say make it inappropriate to draw to many conclusions about the reliability of inspection as a whole.

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