Michael Gove is to be applauded on his announcement that OFSTED inspections will focus on four areas: teaching, leadership, behaviour and achievement. These are the key areas that will lead to higher academic standards. Most welcome is the decision that the monitoring of compliance and the Self-evaluation Form [the SEF] will no longer form part of the inspection framework. Schools will be relieved if the bureaucratic administrative burden that was created by the present system is being lifted so that they can focus more on what goes on in the classroom and less on paperwork. I must confess that I am somewhat bemused by the abandonment of the SEF - it was a useful mechanism for schools to make judgements about how they were doing.
Another change in Inspection criteria will entain committing significant management time to get to grips with another set of inspection criteria, but it must be worth it to get back to a useful inspection framework. The focus on compliance has meant that we no longer get useful, detailed feedback from Inspectors on the teaching and learning that is going on. So let us hope that the Independent Schools Inspectorate will follow suit quickly - roll on ISI4! Alternatively, we could just return to ISI2, which was abandoned primarily because it did not focus sufficiently on compliance.
Michael Gove's Open Letter to Christine Gilbert, the HM Chief Inspector, OFSTED 22/09/2010