When is an Ofsted Inspection not an Inspection?

When is an Ofsted Inspection not an InspectionMany will call me a cynic but Ofsted don’t publish documents for no specific reason, so when their new document Gathering additional evidence to secure an incomplete inspection dropped into my inbox I was intrigued. Several thoughts went through my head, is this a quality improvement measure; will this give providers an opportunity to raise issues about their inspection – prior to or after reports being published online; will this provide more secure inspections or just be an inconvenience for providers. I think I can probably answer Yes to all of the above. So what is the document all about…

Whilst it says Ofsted themselves will decide if an inspection has not produced enough evidence, the fact that they will do this after providers have had a chance to see the draft or final report for a ‘factual accuracy check or comments’ suggests to me that if there is a challenge made by providers about this evidence base then there is the potential to have a re-inspection based on these challenges. When have we previously been allowed to make comments, well any that have been listened too? Is this a another example of a positive shift towards better quality and communication with providers from our overseer? But could it work against us? Obviously no-one with a Good or Outstanding would choose to be re-inspected – but might Ofsted use it for this purpose as well? Only time will tell on this and whilst they do say these situations will happen ‘very rarely’ it is interesting to note the examples of the circumstances of when this might occur and when an inspection will be considered incomplete, which are:

  • where key judgements that may affect the overall outcome of the inspection are given orally by the lead inspector at final feedback to the provider or stated in the written report, but are not substantiated by evidence gathered and recorded by the inspection team
  • where the conduct of the inspection is such that the evidence gathered and recorded cannot be relied upon to provide a fair and accurate view of the provider, in whole or in part
  • where the inspector or inspection team has not gathered sufficient evidence or evidence of sufficient quality to allow it to obtain a fair and accurate view of the provider, in whole or in part.

Which is quite a broad spectrum to give as examples and at the very least allows providers to re-dress any issues they do have with regard to the quality of evidence collected if their outcome has not been good – but conversely will also allow Ofsted to revisit an Outstanding provider too.

Ofsted may also find inspections unreliable for other reasons such as they were using the wrong statutory power or judgements were being made on ‘matters or activities that fall outside Ofsted’s remits’ and I can think of one particular nursery who battled for over a year on this issue alone, perhaps that has had some influence on the creation of this document?

The document does also cover their internal procedures to follow prior to a report being published, possibly caused by a complaint about the inspector? This procedure includes – offering an apology! Well if that is a shift in attitude I’m not sure what is.

Anyway, its a short and easy read and unless you have a dubious inspection one that should never have to be picked up again. The thinking behind it though is something I plan to raise with our Ofsted Big Conversation meeting next month – because that’s the cynic in me!

About the author: Tricia Wellings

Tricia Wellings EYNFF Early Years National Funding Formula Analysis
Tricia qualified as an NNEB and achieved a BA (Hons) in Early Education Studies and Early Years Teacher Status. She obtained her PTLLS and CTTLS in order to teach adults and most recently her A1 assessors award. She has run a group of day nurseries for 18 years and trains her own teams.

Her passion for and knowledge of owning and running a nursery group and the issues within the sector that affect them is second to none. She continues to keep herself updated through regular meetings with PVI groups, Local Authorities, Ofsted Big Conversation and Conferences.

You can find our more about Tricia on her website www.triciawellings.co.uk

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