Thursday, 4 February 2016

Self-fulfilling prophesies?

Eleanor Schooling, Ofsted’s Director of Social Care, has been explaining why the controversial single inspection framework of local authorities children’s services in England is running behind schedule.

I can’t say that hearing that these inspections are taking longer than expected upsets me very much. As far as I am concerned the whole programme could be indefinitely delayed with no ill effects. But I was interested to read in Children and Young People Now Eleanor Schooling’s remarks on why she thinks such a large proportion of local authorities have received low judgements from her inspectors – about 75% of councils inspected so far are rated either "inadequate" or "requires improvement".

She is reported as saying that Ofsted has prioritised areas where “there was the most anxiety”, resulting in a skewed picture. I had to read that a couple of times to let in sink in. How does anybody know prior to an inspection taking place what the inspection will show? And what powers of second sight do Ofsted inspectors have to be able to pre-judge their own results? And what is the point of carrying out an expensive inspection if there is another quicker way of making the judgement?