Memorandum submitted by the National Governors'
1.1. The National Governors' Association (NGA)
is the national membership body for school governors. NGA has
several categories of membership comprising individual governors,
school governing bodies and independent local associations of
school governing bodies. NGA seeks to represent the interests
of all school governors and governing bodies in all phases and
types of school.
The majority of NGA's members are supportive of the
inspection regime and value the information and judgements inspections
2.1. Do we need an inspectorate?
Yes, it is important that there is an independent
2.2. If so what should the purpose of inspection
Schools must be held accountable for what they do
and it is important that there is an effective system in place
for improving the quality of provision.
2.3. How often should inspections happen?
Schools should be inspected every three years.
2.4. What is your experience of the quality/consistency
Members have generally reported positive experiences
of Ofsted, with inspection judgements reflecting the governing
body's views of the school.
2.5. Who Should Ofsted report to?
The NGA believes that there needs to be greater clarification
about whether Ofsted is reporting to the headteacher or the governing
2.6. Do you feel the current inspection regime
adequately covers governance?
Anecdotal evidence from members indicates that there
is some concern that inspectors do not fully understand governance
or the role of governors.
2.7. Should any inspection report include
recommendations for improvement
Inspectors should offer advice on strategies for
2.8. The weight given to different factors
within the inspection process
The NGA believes that inspections should focus on
teaching and learning and leadership, management and governance.
2.9. The role of Ofsted in providing an accountability
mechanism for school operating with greater autonomy
It is important to retain an inspection regime which
can provide an independent validation of schools' own self-evaluations.
3. Do we need an inspectorate?
3.1. Yes, it is important that there is an independent
inspection regime. An independent inspection report provides
vital information for governors in their role of holding the professional
staff of the school to account.
4. If so what should the purpose of inspection
4.1. Schools must be held accountable for what
they do and it is important that there is an effective system
in place for improving the quality of provision. The inspection
regime should primarily be to inspect, but an effective inspection
regime will also provide advice on strategies for improvement.
4.2. The inspection should give a rounded picture
of the school. Although the NGA accepts that attainment levels
are important and disadvantage should not be used as an excuse
for poor quality; we are concerned that the context of the school
is not taken into account and in particular not enough emphasis
is given to any progress the school may have made. An exclusive
focus on attainment can also mean that "coasting" schools
can continue to coast.
4.3. The current inspection regime covers both
teaching and learning and management capabilities. The NGA is
concerned that Ofsted teams do not always have sufficient expertise
to judge adequately the latter. The NGA does not believe that
many inspectors have a good knowledge of governance (see paragraph
5. How often should inspections happen?
5.1. NGA members have differing views on this
subject, but there is a broad consensus that inspections should
be every three years as schools for the majority of schools.
Where a school is underperforming inspection should be more frequent.
5.2. There should be a set timetable for all
schools, as otherwise schools can be left in a limbo of wondering
when the inspectors are going to arrive.
5.3. The NGA believes that outstanding schools
should also be part of the regular inspection regime; as the performance
of schools can and does sometimes change significantly in a short
period of time. An inspection will show whether or not a school
is still outstanding.
6. What is your experience of the quality/consistency
of Ofsted inspections?
6.1 NGA Members have generally found the Ofsted
inspection to be a positive experience. Members reported that
they have found the overall Ofsted judgement consistent with their
6.2 Some members have reported issues with inspections/inspectors-
these issues have been raised by individual NGA members and it
is difficult to know how representative this is of the regime:
- Some Ofsted inspectors have a "hobby horse"
which becomes the main focus of the inspection.
- The impression given at the feedback session
is not always mirrored in the final report.
- Quality is variable and a poor inspector can
cause a disproportionate amount of damage.
- Having made an initial judgement before arriving
at the school some inspectors are unable or unwilling to change
this view, even when the school presents evidence to them.
- Ofsted inspectors do not have the expertise to
make judgements about value for money and their judgements are
based on inadequate evidence and are flawed.
7. Who should Ofsted report to?
7.1. The NGA believes that there needs to be
greater clarification about who Ofsted is reporting to.
7.2. The NGA does not believe it is entirely
clear in the current regime who Ofsted is reporting to; whether
it is the school or the governing body. The governing body is
the accountable body in the school and is responsible for disseminating
the report, but it is not currently compulsory for governors to
be invited to the feedback session. The NGA believes that governors
must be invited to the feedback session and must attend.
8. Do you feel the current inspection regime
adequately covers governance?
8.1. The current inspection framework has detailed
criteria for the inspection of governance arrangements. One
of the NGA's core objectives is to improve and promote high standards
of governance and we believe it is important that governance continues
to form part of the inspection framework.
8.2. Anecdotal feedback from members leads us
to believe that governance is not always adequately covered or
more importantly understood by inspectors. The NGA does not
feel that governance is given sufficient scrutiny by Ofsted.
This is partly because the current shorter inspections mean that
there is not enough time to scrutinise everything and although
inspectors do speak to governors (usually the chair) they may
give prominence to governing body minutes, which may say more
about the minute taker than the governing body.
9. Should any inspection report include recommendations
9.1. The NGA acknowledges that there is a tension
between an inspection organisation and one that is providing advice.
Nonetheless the NGA believes that the move under the current
framework for Ofsted to not just highlight ineffectiveness, but
to offer strategies for improvement is to be welcomed. An inspection
is too important an activity in the life of a school to simply
be a "health check", there also needs to be advice on
how to get/stay healthy.
10. The weight given to different factors
within the inspection process
10.1. The current framework is extensive and
it is difficult to inspect all the elements thoroughly. The
NGA believes that the focus should be on teaching and learning
and leadership, management and governance. Although other elements,
such as community cohesion are important the NGA feels these would
be better inspected as "themed inspection" across a
number of schools, rather than in the short time available in
10.2. The NGA acknowledges that elements of the
current self-evaluation form (SEF) have become too long and bureaucratic,
but this is not the entire story. SEFs vary enormously in length
and some of this is as result of schools focusing on narrative
rather than evaluative information. Schools need to be clear that
the self-evaluation form is not meant to record what they have
done, but how that makes a difference.
10.3. The NGA is concerned that the abolition
of the SEF will lead to deterioration in the quality of school
self-evaluation. The NGA believes that there must be some consistency
in the self-evaluation process and that there should be a generic
self-evaluation form for schools.
11. The role of Ofsted in providing an accountability
mechanism for schools operating with greater autonomy
11.1. The formal mechanism for maintained schools
to report to parents is currently the School Profile, which is
widely viewed as unfit for purpose and a waste of time.
11.2. An independent inspection regime and reporting
mechanism is important in any system, but especially where individual
schools are responsible for their own school improvement.
11.3. Ofsted inspect only every three or more
years and there needs to be a clear mechanism for schools to report
to parents and the wider public in the interim. That could be
some form of annual report or possibly a version of the school's