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OFSTED: 'brief encounters of a second kind'?!

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journal contribution
posted on 2009-04-02, 12:23 authored by Lorraine CaleLorraine Cale, Jo Harris
Since 1995, the Office for Standards in Education has inspected the quality of all Initial Teacher Training (ITT) provision in England on behalf of the Training and Development Agency for Schools (TDA). Ofsted inspection results are published and are highly significant because the TDA has a statutory duty to take account of them when allocating trainee numbers, funding ITT provision and making accreditation decisions. Yet, concerns have been expressed over the reliability, validity and credibility of inspections as well as over limitations in the methodology and/or the ‘high stakes’ involved. More recently however, there have been revisions to the inspection framework and the current inspection arrangements, which now comprise full and short inspections, propose to be effective, efficient, cost effective and less burdensome (Ofsted, 2005b; Ofsted & TTA, 2004). Purpose The purpose of this paper is to provide a critical account of our most recent ‘short’ Ofsted Inspection of ITT at Loughborough University as a follow up to earlier papers published by ourselves and colleagues on the inspection of our secondary Physical Education ITT provision (Hardy & Evans, 2000; Cale & Harris, 2003). In particular, we consider the extent to which the process is effective, efficient, cost effective, less burdensome and represents a ‘brief encounter’. Method The account is informed by data from various sources. ITT staff kept journals for a period of 7 months leading up to, during, and following the inspection in which they detailed their Ofsted activities, experiences and reflections. Staff periodically completed their journals recording the preparation, work and meetings they were involved in, and noting and reflecting on any problems, issues, concerns, anxieties, frustrations and/or other emotions they experienced. Documentary evidence in the form of Ofsted Handbooks, Guidance plus other paperwork the inspection generated was also collected for analysis. Finally, to augment and support the findings from the journals and documentary evidence, a review of related literature was undertaken. Analysis of the data involved identification of key issues. Discussion and Conclusion Based on our experiences and reflections and the findings from the literature, a number of issues and limitations with the inspection process and framework are highlighted. Given these, we declare that we remain cynical about the whole process and the validity of the outcomes. We contest the notion that the inspection process is effective, efficient and cost effective and feel that it still places an enormous burden on providers. Further, we suggest that the framework is fundamentally flawed which could have serious consequences not only for the future of our own course, but for the future of ITT.



  • Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences


CALE, L. and HARRIS, P., 2009. OFSTED: 'brief encounters of a second kind'?! Physical Education & Sport Pedagogy, 14 (1), pp. 41-58.


© Routledge


  • AM (Accepted Manuscript)

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This article was published in the journal, Physical Education & Sport Pedagogy [© Routledge]. The definitive version is available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/17408980802225826




  • en

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