Ofsted snubs calls to publish inspector training guides

School leaders are demanding the watchdog publish 'aide memoires' summarising inspection criteria after some were leaked

School leaders are demanding the watchdog publish 'aide memoires' summarising inspection criteria after some were leaked

6 Oct 2022, 15:44

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Ofsted said the inspection materials did not work as guidance without the wider context of its training programme

Ofsted has snubbed demands from school leaders and education unions to publish inspection training sheets.

Critics had argued the “aide memories”, provided to additional inspectors, could give schools with access to them an unfair advantage.

At least 12 of the subject-specific crib sheets have been leaked via social media since the weekend.

But after several days of silence, Ofsted confirmed in a statement today that it would not be publishing guides for all schools to access.

“Inspectors assess schools using the education inspection framework and the school inspection handbook, and we would always encourage schools to read those,” said the inspectorate.

“We do not publish inspector training materials as they are specifically designed to support inspection activity. And, without the context of our wider training programme, they are incomplete and do not work as guidance for schools.”

A letter sent later to unions from chief inspector Amanda Spielman added: “Our concern is that releasing these documents separately, without the accompanying context and detail, could lead to people misinterpreting their purpose or messages.

“In particular, we are concerned that schools could use them as simple checklists,
leading to increased and unnecessary workload.”

The Ofsted spokesperson claimed the “information they contain” was available in Ofsted’s published research, videos, blogs and curriculum roadshow materials.

Both the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) and the Confederation of School Trusts (CST) wrote to Ofsted to demand their publication earlier this week.

Condensed Ofsted summaries ‘useful’ for schools

School leaders had said the guidance provided useful condensed summaries of what schools will be judged on.

Tom Middlehurst, a curriculum and inspection specialist at ASCL, said Ofsted should publish the documents “in the interests of transparency and fairness”.

Meanwhile, CST’s deputy chief executive Steve Rollett, said he “understood” concerns that the documents could be “misinterpreted” when used in isolation from inspector training sessions. “But I think, on balance, publishing them is the right thing to do.”

Public research reports were “quite lengthy”, but it was “plausible” school staff would find the summaries useful, Rollett added.

“That they are now circulating beyond the inspection workforce means those not able to view them will feel the current situation is unfair.”

Also speaking on Tuesday, Jonny Uttley, chief executive of The Education Alliance academy trust, described the situation as “untenable”.

“You’ve got schools and trusts where they have trained inspectors, and I know of multiple examples where [the aide memories are] being used in those trusts internally. Now you have a group of people on Twitter [with access to them],” he said.

“It’s reaching a point where it’s untenable for Ofsted not to make the summary documents available to all schools.”

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One comment

  1. Leon Cych

    “We want inspection to be clear and transparent, so schools know
    what to expect. And we continue to support that transparency through our
    curriculum reviews, handbook updates, roadshows and presentations.”

    That’s Amanda Spielman in June 2022 at the Festival of Education 4 months ago…