Monday, 23 May 2016

Preparing for Ofsted?

I am torn between disbelief and despair by an article in the Evesham Journal about Worcestershire County Council’s Children’s Services.
Has somebody misunderstood what is going on or are council chiefs (as the headline proclaims) really planning to stage “a series of mock inspections” of Worcestershire's child protection services in order to prepare for an upcoming visit from Ofsted?

I don’t know specifically what is happening in Worcestershire. But generally it seems to me that there is a fundamental problem with the impact of the Ofsted regime; with its judgemental approach and its narrowly graded outcomes. A good result in an inspection can become more important than actually providing a good service. Improving appearances can become more important than improving service quality. Pleasing the inspectors can become more important than meeting children’s needs.

It all adds up to just more and more pressure on services that are already pressured as a result of tight financial constraints, increasing demands and a longstanding and unremitting shortage of suitably trained and experienced staff.

To my mind it’s all part of a name and blame and shame culture. It isn’t a recipe for improvement, it’s a recipe for knocking the stuffing out of services and the people who deliver them.