Wednesday, 9 October 2013

The Judgements of Ofsted

I do not find it surprising that the school attended by Daniel Pelka - at which teachers and other staff did not suspect neglect as Daniel starved to death - had been described in a recent Ofsted inspection as having ‘robust’ arrangements for child safeguarding and protection. 

The problem is not with the school so much as with Ofsted. The spot-check inspection approach favoured by Ofsted is unlikely to be reliable (or ‘robust’ for that matter). A few questions will have been asked and a few boxes will have been ticked and, hey presto, we don’t have to worry too much until the next formulaic inspection. What a relief!

The inspection judgement sends the wrong message, to staff and to parents, and it lets down children because a safe school is not one in which a few neatly typed documents are available to the inspectors. It’s one where members of staff have the right state of mind; where they understand human error and how it can and does occur; and where they remain creatively anxious about the possibility of failure. It's a school where everybody takes a part in improving services and systems to make them safer.

I wonder how much the inspector who wrote that clean bill of health knew about organisational safety?