Ofsted to keep grading system despite criticism

The ‘outstanding’ to ‘inadequate’ grading system is here to stay despite on-going concerns over reliability and validity of inspectors’ judgements. Pete Henshaw takes a look

Ofsted has rejected criticism of its four-point school grading system and confirmed it will continue to be used under the new Education Inspection Framework (EIF) from September.

A 13-page paper published by the inspectorate acknowledges some of the criticisms of the grading approach, which rates schools as “inadequate”, “requires improvement”, “good” or “outstanding”.

However, Ofsted concludes that “on balance, the arguments for change do not yet counterbalance the arguments for keeping the current system”.

The paper – Retaining the current grading system in education (Ofsted, 2019) – argues that moving to another type of grading system, or scrapping grades altogether and perhaps relying solely on attainment or progress data, for example, could have unintended consequences and worsen behaviours such as off-rolling or gaming.

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