The (In)consistency of OFSTED: Who OFSTED’s OFSTED?

A big declaration from Professor Dylan William, well known for his leading working on AfL in the classroom: ”OFSTED do not know good teaching when they see it!”

From your experience in school environments do you agree with this?  Do OFSTED inspectors have consistency across the schools they inspect?  If two OFSTED teams inspected the same school one week apart, with no communication between the two teams, would they ‘grade’ the school the same?  How thorough is OFSTED’s quality control? 

I am not a 100% sure of the answers, maybe someone with more experience could help me out here…

Professor William, in a recent TES article, does make a point that, in my humble opinion, screams out common sense:

”If I showed you a 30-second clip of a game between Manchester United and Manchester City and I said ‘Who won the game?’, you would say it’s ridiculous to try to predict the outcome of a 90-minute game on the basis of a 30-second clip,” Professor Wiliam said. “And that is what we are trying to do with Ofsted, isn’t it? Instead of saying a teacher is going to teach a kid for 200 hours, they are looking at 30 minutes.”

Furthermore, some schools have been awarded an ‘Outstanding’ when teaching in the school is rated ‘Good’ overall.  How can this be?  Our core role as a teacher is to consistently generate exciting, engaging, challenging and memorable learning experiences for all students.  If a school’s curriculum is the lifeblood of the school then high quality pedagogical practices are the red blood cells that that keep curiculum alive and vibrant!! Blood (the curriculum) without the vital red blood cells (quality pedagogy) is pointless and useless.   

I am going to leave you all with three thought provokers.  The first is a conversation I found courtesy of a RT on twitter from the brilliant David Didau (@learningspy).  If you have not checked out his blog ( , do it……and quickly:

”I asked an inspector if they’d ever taught a lesson; they hadn’t but ‘observed over 100’. I’ve seen all of ER, am I a doctor?”

The second is from Professor William himself:

“I am not saying that Ofsted doesn’t know what it is doing, I am saying that teaching and learning is so complex that it’s very hard to predict how much kids are going to learn in a year by looking at a sample of half an hour.”

And finally, did you know that Finland, the world’s leading educational country according to PISA, do not have the equivalent of an OFSTED inspection?  They have a culture of responsibility and trust where teaching is a highly sought after and regarded profession compared to the UK’s culture of accountability and control.

(Check out my post on Finland here:

So everyone, what is the future for OFSTED?  How can they change for the better?  Do they need to change?  Do we need OFSTED to improve our educational system? And indeed, who OFSTED’s OFSTED?

Many questions to consider, with many possible solutions…




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