Cut and paste OFSTED

The newspapers are buzzing with reports that an OFSTED inspector has used a ‘cut and paste’ system for writing reports. What are your views on this?
OFSTED ‘cut and paste’

An investigation is underway into claims that OFSTED have allowed cut and paste sentences to appear in two “inadequate” schools inspection reports.

Both schools were visited by the same lead inspector, both reports state “Some teachers do not plan learning for pupils at their different levels of ability and marking is not leading to improvement.”

The inspection were some three months apart - one in January, another in March. OFSTED have moderated both reports and stand by the judgements that were made, they are however “concerned by the similarity of some of the wording used in the two reports and this is being looked into with the inspector concerned."

Similarities in the wording have raised cause for concern and is being rigorously inspected. Tribal, who provide inspectors for OFSTED state that reports should “reflect the uniqueness of schools.”

The National Association for Head Teachers commented on the reports and said that cut and paste reports were unacceptable as “the fate of the school rests on what is written”.

It is obvious that there will be some degree of similarity and turn of phrase in reports written by the same inspector. As OFSTED have such a formulaic approach to school inspection, there will also be some similarities in the reports as inspectors seek to include the correct wording to support their judgments.

The reverse of this argument is that when inspectors are able to choose their phrasing that there is not a level of equality or balance between reports and between inspectors. We already know how inspections differ dependent upon the nature of the lead inspector. I’ve been through several, at different sites, where the inspection process was so radically different. The judgments made were fair and I would agree that under the inspection framework they were correct. However, one report was written in a positive manner, the other had significantly negative undertones. One inspector praised Safeguarding practice, the other questioned everything we do. The judgement was good on both reports!

If the inspectors used a formulaic ‘cut and paste’ set of statements would this have ensured a fairer reporting system? Or would it simply have taken away the uniqueness of the settings?

I guess the major questions today are:

Are ‘cut and paste’ reports acceptable?

How should OFSTED approach this to make the reporting system fair for all?

What are your experiences of OFSTED?

As always, your views are welcomed.
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