Memorandum submitted by Mrs Stella R Davis,
MA, Retired Teacher
That there exists inertia and confusion
in the relationships between the DCSF, Ofsted and the private
inspectorate, ISC/ISI (Independent Schools Council/Independent
Schools Inspectorate). (Throughout this text I use ISI/ISC as
occasionally I am not certain who employs whom. They were at that
time the same company.)
That an individual who wishes to
make an appeal concerning the independence of or the outcome of
or the Report on an inspection by the ISC/ISI cannot and may not
That claims made by Ofsted concerning
their role in overseeing the work of the private inspectorate
The ISI inspection of which I have direct experience
took place in 2002. In 1999, the ISC/ISI employed a director/governor
of the member school as "team builder" for inspections
of HMC schools. In 2002 he chose the team inspectors for the member
school's inspection. The ISI/ISC employee also provided pre and
post inspection material. He is now chair of governors. The inspection
was not independent. The criteria in the framework for inspections
laid down with Ofsted and the DCSF were not met. Neither Ofsted
nor the DCSF has as yet seen it as their duty to investigate,
review and amend the Report which contains errors of fact and
for which there are no substantive records of inspection evidence.
It has been on the internet for five years now. The recommendations
of the biased and flawed report are about to be used as the basis
of another report in October.
1. Four years of research, mainly into one
particular inspection, have shown a lack of procedural clarity
within the DCSF and Ofsted. However, there is certainty about
the outcome so far. An individual who wishes to make an appeal
concerning the independence of or the outcome of an inspection
by the ISC/ISI cannot and may not do so.
2. Mr Bell says that Ofsted "quality
assures the work of ISI". He has also indicated in writing
that there appear to have been "procedural irregularities"
in this inspection, but, as HMCIS at that time, said that it was
not within his remit to do anything about it.
3. In inspections that are not of the small
selection to be monitored, Ofsted allows the ISI to do its own
quality assurance. Amanda Noble, on 2 January 2008, on behalf
of Christine Gilbert says, "complaints against individual
inspections must be handled according to the ISI's own complaints
4. The ISI appeals procedure is simple.
It does not allow appeal by individuals. Only member schools may
5. Therefore there is no procedure in place
to deal with poor quality, biased, inadequate or flawed reports,
appealed by individuals, because it does not need one. Only schools,
ie, members of the ISC, may appeal against any inspection. Individuals
may not appeal. All the schools inspected by the ISI are members
of the ISC. Mr Shephard, a barrister and former CEO of the ISC
says in a letter of 3 January 2005, "Tony Hubbard is correct
in saying only a school may appeal".
6. The ISC is a limited company funded by
a paying membership of over 1000 charities (independent schools)
whom it inspects. Its membership includes HMC, AGBIS and the Bursar's
association. Independent schools are businesses and their needs
are the same as any other business. So, were an independent school
to wish to rid itself of a more expensive members of staff? A
process can be used where a private consultancy firm (even the
ISC itself) is brought in, given a brief like "we would like
to make changes in ... department", and the inevitable results
of that consultancy are used as SPIM. What if the school wanted
to cover up something much more serious like bullying or child
abuse. The system in place is not safe.
7. No-one outside the schools membership
of the ISC may appealthat would include teachers, whistleblowers
like myself, MPs and teachers' professional associations.
8. An ISI Report is published on the internet
world-wide on a site that is regarded by the majority to be of
high quality and to contain the results of independent, objective,
rigorous inspection. No-one leading a department found wanting
has a professional future.
9. Mr Gould, Chairman of the ISC, believed
that a Report could not be amended once it was published. In the
example which I have researched, the lead inspector, prior to
publication, was made aware that the Report contained omission
and "errors of fact", but replied to the Headmaster,
who had initially put forward the complaints of a number of staff,
that she was "sure of her judgements". There is no procedure
in the ISI documentationat least not for any Report I have
been concerned withto help an individual question a lead
inspector's judgements, even if the individual has been completely
excluded from any discussion of criticism of their department,
as in the case to which I refer.
10. In a letter to my MP on 4 April 2008,
Mr Bell says that Ofsted "is the body charged with quality
assuring ISI's work". However, a response to me by Amanda
Noble, on behalf of Christine Gilbert, 2 January 2008, said, "Ofsted
does not assure the quality of all ISI inspections". Later
in his letter, Mr Bell says, "DCSF works with Ofsted and
approved inspectorates to ensure that any matters raised in the
course of quality assurance are addressed promptly".
11. A memo to Penny Jones of the DCSF in
February 2006 restates the "well developed internal system"
mentioned in the e-consultation material. "ISI rules are
such that only a school can complain about a report and not a
member of staff".
12. The ATL, the teachers' professional
association, said in a press release in November 2007, that the
ISC is "unaccountable". "Making Ofsted responsible
for inspecting independent schools should make inspections more
transparent and provide a proper complaints system, instead of
the current totally unsatisfactory, unaccountable system".
It "should", but the procedures must be clear to all
involved, including those individuals inspected by the private
inspectorates. I am not sure that the employees of Ofsted and
the DCSF are clear on what their responsibilities are. I have
certainly found it impossible to find out. Hence why I have written
to so many people. Much of the background research has been done
by a former colleague's wife.
13. A document concerning the issue of Ofsted's
quality assurance of ISI work, at this location http://22.214.171.124/search?q=cache:Yr1V8eZzZRYJ:www.ofsted.gov.uk/assets/Internet_Content/Shared_
clnk&cd=1 states: Ofsted also ensures that the inspectorate's
quality assurance processes, inspector training and procedures
to address concerns about inspections and reports are fit for
14. I have never been able to find out who
made the offer, but in a memo of 6 February 2008 to Penny Jones
of the DCSF, someone whose name is blanked out said, "Ofsted
have offered to undertake a review of the ISI handling of the
complaint and to see whether there were irregularities".
15. The ISI handling of the complaint was
that they said that an individual could not appeal. How long would
that review have taken?
16. By not doing a review, Ofsted have shown
themselves to accept the idea, potentially in breach of Human
Rights legislation, that an individual may not appeal against
unsubstantiated criticism of their professional performance. Can
you imagine this happening to a doctoronly hospitals may
17. Data subject requests under the DPA
have shown that the ISI have no evidence to support anything in
two main recommendations in the Report I investigated and have
no evidence to support several comments made in the text. They
don't need to have as there are no checks. The same writer on
6 February 2006 knew what the ISI procedure was "ISI rules
are such that only a school can complain about a report and gave
this as a reason why the writer's department should not review.
The text of paragraph 3 of the memo to Penny Jones on 6 February
2006 reads: She (me) is appealing to us (?), and Ofsted, that
the ISI inspection was flawed and did not meet the terms of its
own handbook. She claims that Jonathan Shephard has admitted that
a trustee of the school was employed by ISI to build the team
and that he was unable to deny that the trustee had inappropriate
knowledge about the school. However ISI rules are such that only
a school can complain about a report and not a member of staff".
18. Ms M Pattinson on 8 February 2006 wrote,
"the DfES must have assurances about the integrity of the
ISI inspection system and assurances that the agreed framework
is being adhered to". She is the only person actually to
have said so.
19. I am not alone in knowing that private
inspectorates are neither transparent nor objective nor independent.
Nor am I alone in thinking that neither the inspections nor the
procedures to deal with appeals from individuals are "fit
20. On page 2 of his letter of April 2008
Mr Bell says, "the Current Education and Skills Bill seeks
to make the approval process for inspectorates, such as ISI, more
transparent so that institutions, parents and the wider public
can be confident that they are competent and independent, and
that they have an objective perspective on inspection and performance
against the regulatory standards... However, this appears to narrow
government responsibility to the "regulatory standards"
again and the ISI/ISC rules of "no appeal for the individual"
to the general content of a Report can still apply.
21. Being accountable is not difficult,
but it requires the integrity that is a moral absolute for any
organisation involved with children. Ms Pattinson sought, and
received, "assurances" from Ms Ryan of the ISI/ISC.
But that was all. The response from Ms Ryan on 9 February 2006
said, "I have investigated the complaints made about the
alleged breaches of the ISI framework in relation to team building
and prior knowledge. Both these allegations have previously been
investigated by Tony Hubbard and by Jonathan Shephard and found
to be completely without foundation". Ms Ryan does not say
what she, herself found. Ms Ryan continues "I wish to give
clear assurance to DfES that ISI investigations did not reveal
any flaws in the way the team was built", She does not say
that there was no flaw just that the ISI investigations found
none. I think the investigations were done by Mr Shephard of the
ISC, so this is where it is important to use both names. However,
it suggests that there is no problem with a trustee of a school
choosing the inspectors for the school and providing SPIM for
the inspection. I have been told that there was "nothing
unusual" about the inspection I investigated.
22. The ISC are fully aware that the inspection
to which I refer and which I use as an example was not independent
and had no evidence that they can produce under the Data Protection
Act (The ISI/ISC are not subject to the FOI but should be). Ms
Ryan says "The process at the time followed the agreed framework
and we continue to do our utmost to ensure the independence and
impartiality of the inspection teams". This memo is very
carefully worded and does not state that this sample inspection
23. On 11 December 2007, Ms Denise Hunter
of the DCSF Independent schools partnership and strategy department
wrote that although I alleged that "the Report's (Ryde School
with Upper Chine November 2002) findings were unfounded and should
be withdrawn. We have no powers in that respect". So if a
report is not independent who can withdraw it or have it amended?
In my example the Report concerned is about to be used as the
basis for another six yearly Report. The factual errors of the
first recommendations in the report will be used as the starting
point for the next. The new report will inevitably be flawed.
24. On 11 December 2007, the DCSF is saying
it does not have the authority to ask for a review, yet Penny
Jones of the same department on 10 February 2006 said, "I
doubt we have a cause to ask Ofsted to investigate the ISI inspection
in this case". So she could have done. Her reason for not
doing so? Penny Jones gave her reason for not investigating a
complaint by an individual. She wrote in February 2006 "based
only on one allegation of this nature which ISI have fully investigated".
So the DCSF also has a rule that an individual may not appeal
to them either?
25. Someone (whose name is blanked out of
the FOI material) wrote in February 2006 that, "we have held
the line that we have no concerns about the report and are only
interested to the extent of whether it accurately reports against
the standards required for Registration as an Independent school".
The website above says: Ofsted also ensures that the inspectorate's
quality assurance processes, inspector training and procedures
to address concerns about inspections and reports are fit for
26. Another section of the memo to Penny
Jones on 6 February 2006 says, "She (me) is appealing to
us, (DCSF) and Ofsted that the ISI inspection was flawed and did
not meet the terms of its own handbook. She claims that Jonathan
Shephard has admitted that a trustee of the school was employed
by ISI(ISC) to build the team and that he was unable to deny that
the trustee had inappropriate knowledge about the school. However,
ISI rules are such that only a school can complain about a report
and not a member of staff".
27. The DCSF and Ofsted are prepared to
submit to the ISI and its rules that only a school can appeal.
28. On the next page of the memo to Penny Jones
on 6 February 2006, the writer says. "it is perhaps our duty
to ask Ofsted to investigate this type of allegation and irregularity
in the ISI system". Perhaps it isparticularly in the
light of the statement on the site above: "Ofsted also ensures
that the inspectorate's quality assurance processes, inspector
training and procedures to address concerns about inspections
and reports are fit for purpose". Or in the light of Mr Bell's
claim "Ofsted quality assures the work of ISI" and "it
is the body charged with quality assuring ISI's work".
29. The ISI/ISC has only one procedure to
address concerns of any individual"ISI rules are such
that only a school can complain about a report". So whoever
wrote this note to Penny Jones of the DCSF, knew that this private
inspectorate's procedures to address concerns about inspections
and reports was that "only a school can complain". That
is not "fit for purpose" if objectivity or independence
is of concern, as that meant that only members of the ISC/ISI
30. The problem for the future is that,
in the e-consultation documentation the DCSF says in section 2.8
"In monitoring larger inspectorates, which have well developed
internal systems, Ofsted can form its judgement on the basis of
a small sample of reports in addition to checking that inspectorate
systems work well.".