Memorandum from General Teaching Council
for England (OFS 13)
OFSTED UNDER SCRUTINY
a complete overhaul of the Ofsted
building a consensus of commitment
to accountability where schools are seen as professional partners
within an agreed framework of accountability;
establishing three principles of
accountability that balance the need for internal and external
accountability through rigorous
Quality Assurance Activities
External Audit and Quality Assessment.
1. The General Teaching Council for England,
through its code, disciplinary responsibilities and register,
is itself an important new player in the accountability framework.
It is charged with upholding and improving standards of teaching
in the public interest through its register, code and responsibilities
for safeguarding competence and conduct.
2 .However, the Council is also interested
in developing and promoting the professions' capacity for rigorous
self-evaluation and improvement by establishing partnerships with
key agencies serving the profession, including Ofsted. The Council
believes this will be the most effective way to raise standards,
raise the status of the profession and make it more attractive
to potential applicants and transform the landscape of accountability.
The Council therefore wants to explore ways that it can work with
Ofsted to present accountability as something that affirms professionalism
and professional values and does not undermine them. New approaches,
which could be positively developmental rather than judgmental,
would create a partnership in pursuit of continuous improvement
and avoid undermining teacher morale, professionalism and trust.
3. The General Teaching Council has devised
some principles of accountability for the teaching profession.
These principles are founded on the premise that models of accountability
a sense of partnership in which professional
practices are kept under constant review within a community of
a joint commitment to an appropriate
balance of self, internal and external accountability;
an acceptance that the processes
of internal, subjective self-evaluation can be made as valid as
external, objective criterion-referenced assessment;
an obligation and responsibility
to genuinely transform the landscape of accountability to one
that actively engages teacher professionalism and positively contributes
to teacher effectiveness;
a joint commitment to embed a positive
culture of school effectiveness and school improvement in which
teachers feel confident and able to develop the processes of internal
and external accountability between Ofsted and the profession.
4. The Council believes there is now a consensus
of commitment to accountability, and teachers therefore consider
it essential to be regarded as partners in inspection.
5. The Council considers there should be
three dimensions to professional accountability, each of them
requiring appropriate resources, including time:
School self-evaluation emphasising
the processes of school improvement and school effectiveness;
Quality assurance activities
in which schools involve trusted and respected external "critical
friends" in asking probing questions of the processes, practices
and outcomes of the school. The opportunity to benchmark and exchange
effective practice is an important aspect of professional development
and school improvement;
External audit and quality assessment,
particularly of the educational outcomes provided by the school,
for the purposes of public accountability.
6. In the Council's view, the relationship
between internal and external systems of accountability should
be the subject of whole-scale revision. The review should actively
consider encompassing more explicit links between inspection and
7. The Ofsted framework therefore, should
include an assessment of how well a school has been able to evaluate
itself and develop an improvement programme based upon the evidence
of its own findings and on regular audits of that data.
8. As schools' quality assurance mechanisms,
improvement planning and capacity to use data becomes ever more
sophisticated, the case for a "leaner" and less expensive
inspection process becomes ever more compelling. The introduction
of Performance Management arrangements fit increasingly
well into this and the revised inspection system needs to take
greater account of these developments.
9. A rigorous internal self-evaluation system
shared with parents, governors and other stakeholders with robust
external audit and assessment would ensure that the accountability
framework was systematic, scrupulous and thorough. Public accountability
then becomes a matter of professional self-esteem, where teachers
can positively embrace the outcomes of the process.
10. The Council urges that professional
development opportunities relating to self-evaluation should be
widely available for teachers as self-evaluation becomes more
widespread. However, the Council's policy on Continuing Professional
Development emphasises the need for teachers to have professional
learning opportunities that are integrated into their everyday
professional practice and enables them to evaluate the impact
of their teaching on a continuous basis. The Council would like
to emphasise the importance of schools being allowed to identify
and prioritise their own training and development needs within
a wider context of self-evaluation for school improvement.
11. The professionalism and self-evaluative
expertise that exists within schools ought therefore to be a main
focus for a future accountability framework.
12. An inclusive and coherent framework
should be devised for school accountability which has national,
local and school dimensions enabling Ofsted and LEAs to work within
an agreed structure of quality assuring, auditing and supporting
school self-review processes.
13. We would suggest an extension of the
school self-review programme. This should consist of closer and
more regular monitoring from external sources including local
authority teams, backed up by more in depth inspections for schools
causing concern, at the recommendation of these external advisory
and monitoring teams. The balance of internal and external evaluation
needs to be weighted in respect of each individual school.
14. The Council believes that teachers'
capacity for critical appraisal of their practice and for rigorous
self-evaluation should be a consistent thread of CPD starting
with ITT provision and developing through a teachers' career.
The GTC Professional Learning Framework sets out the areas of
experience which support the development of this capacity. External
audit of self-evaluation processes should focus upon the extent
and quality of opportunities for teachers' engagement with these
areas of experience and the systems in place to enable them to
review the impact of their engagement.
15. LEAs have an important responsibility
to identify schools in difficulties. Effective LEAs audit schools
for strengths and areas for development, network statistical neighbours
and use their resources to identify issues and bring best practice
to schools needing greater support. However other bodies can add
critical formative perspectives on a school's performance, values
and reputation and the Council is of the view that school's should
be able to identify a number of partners whom they would wish
to engage in the quality assurance of their review processes and
the outcomes. The GTC is of the view that these organisations
should be not prescribed but a list of options be presented to
schools: these might include community organisations, local business
partners, faith organisations, local college etc.
16. While the Council welcomes proposals
for schools to identify themes for their own inspection it would
like to see schools having a greater freedom to negotiate the
identification of a range of issues for audit and review. The
proposal to identify just one issue as part of a formal inspection
is not welcomed by the Council, as the identification of a single
issue, could easily become contentious, divisive and invidious
17. The Council, in affirming the concept
of professional accountability, welcomes in principle the proposal
to include the views of pupils to broaden the sources of information
that inform the evaluation of school effectiveness. The views
of pupils can be an important element in the accountability of
the profession to its client groups. This element of a revised
accountability framework needs to be very sensitively and carefully
considered before implementation, to ensure that pupils can make
a meaningful response and teachers can be sure of fair treatment.
An anonymised questionnaire in the context of a formal inspection
may not be the best means of achieving these objectives. The Council
would not welcome the evaluation or judgement of teachers' performance
by pupils. There is already a lot of good practice in seeking
pupils' perspectives on which Ofsted can draw. The Council's view
is that it may, for example, be more effective for external auditors
to check that schools have established systems for seeking pupils'
views and can demonstrate that they respond constructively to
pupils' concerns and suggestions.
18. The Council's key concerns for external
accountability can be summarised as follows. It should:
contribute to improving standards
of teaching and learning;
enhance and not undermine teacher
complement other means by which professional
communities evaluate their practice;
assure educational outcomes for the
purposes of public accountability.
19. The Council would like to see Ofsted
lead a highly rigorous examination of quality assurance audit
processes that requires schools to provide compelling evidence
of their school improvement strategies, one that systematically
challenges schools, on the basis of their own evidence, to agree
with Ofsted's conclusions.
20. The Council welcomes the proposal for
Ofsted to take on a more advisory role and feels Ofsted should
move beyond this to actively engage in advising on the development
of self-evaluation and review processes within the schools they
21. The Council feels strongly that using
more serving teachers and headteachers in school inspections is
not only likely to be a source of professional development for
those involved but is also likely to contribute significantly
to the quality of the inspection process and the dissemination
of effective practice. The Council acknowledges that the need
to embed inspection skills requires a significant and regular
investment in time, training and practice. However, the Council
would suggest that serving teachers and heads involved in inspection
serve on an occasional basis over a longer period of time rather
than intensively or regularly over a shorter, fixed period of
time. This, the Council believes, will facilitate much better
quality and continuity of inspection and minimise any adverse
impacts on the workloads of those serving teachers concerned.
The Council therefore welcomes teacher involvement in inspection
teams but the `supply' implications for schools must be fully
taken in to account.
22. The Council is keen to highlight the
need for inspectors to be highly skilled and have up to date knowledge
of schools. The use of local or seconded teachers with relevant
experience and knowledge of the context and partnerships in which
schools operate is viewed by the Council as very important. The
Council believes that extending these opportunities will reduce
the variability in quality of school inspections.
23. The Council believes the Ofsted consultation,
"Improving Inspection, Improving Schools", is an enormous
opportunity for Ofsted to engage and lead the profession in a
truly pro-active and positive manner through a far reaching and
whole scale revision of its Framework.
24. The Council believes that the central
thrust of any new Framework for accountability must be to place
responsibility where it lies - within the very institutions required
to deliver high standards of achievement. Schools can only deliver
sustained improvement if the appropriate structures for support
and accountability are amenable and accessible to the people expected
to produce the outcomes.
25. The Council believes that its three
principles of accountability will be helpful to Ofsted in reformulating
its approach to the structures and processes of accountability
and urges Ofsted to give them active consideration. While the
Council acknowledges that school self-evaluation is still variable
and that it is not always easy to make clear the distinctions
between school self-evaluation and quality assurance, excellent
models of school self-evaluation are now widespread, many of which
have been adopted from leading examples in industry and commerce.