There is a hidden agenda in our education system and it is being driven by Ofsted. 

The tragic death of Headteacher Ruth Perry, following an Ofsted inspection at Caversham Primary School in Reading has brought public attention to the draconian Ofsted inspection process. Ruth Perry was informed that her previously ‘outstanding’ school was to be downgraded to ‘inadequate’ due only to poor management performance. She carried this devastating news for 54 days, unable to share the information until the report was released. ITV news 24.3.23

The most personal part, and I think that’s the bit that really affected Ruth, is that once you get the judgement you can’t share it with your staff… Ruth held her knowledge for 54 days.

“She knew how cataclysmic it was going to be when the news went out… she had to show prospective parents around her school who were coming because it was outstanding, knowing it was inadequate.

The shock of ‘inadequate’ would have been compounded by the glowing feedback she received following an HMI pilot inspection at the school in 2019.

It is difficult to understand how inadequate management can deliver ‘good’ results in all areas. ITV news – sister of Ruth Perry.

The inspection report found the school to be good in every category apart from leadership and management, where it was judged to be “inadequate”.

Ms Perry’s sister, Professor Julia Waters, said in a statement on behalf of the family that some of the Ofsted inspectors’ conclusions were “sensationalist” and “drawn from scant evidence”, such as gaps in record-keeping and typical childish behaviour.

“In our opinion, the findings of Ofsted were disproportionate, unfair and, as has tragically been proven, deeply harmful in their (implied) focus on one individual,” Ms Waters added.

These twitter comments may provide the answer.

This article from the Daily Mail on 29th March 2023 describes the way the Ofsted inspectors hone in on issues such as safeguarding to find a lever to down grade management; leaving excellent LEA schools open to MAT conversion. 

(MAT) Multi-Academy Trusts are funded directly from central government, with no local authority control. They are essentially the stealth privatisation of our school system. They are run by business conglomerates such as the Harris Federation led by Lord Harris, previously CEO of Carpetright. Or the ARK charity set up in 2002 by a group of hedge fund managers. Ark saw a gross income of £14.66 million in August 2021.  These organisations may call themselves philanthropic but hedge fund managers and business tycoons work for profit. When LEA schools are found to be ‘failing’ they are ripe for MAT take-over.

Head Teachers can complain if they feel unfairly treated by Ofsted. Unfortunately, government regulators handle all complaints internally, according to the same biased playbook – neatly described here by John Cosgrove a retired Headteacher.      

Stage 1 of Ofsted’s complaint process is to address your concerns to the lead inspector. I wrote him a 3 page letter. His reply was 4 sentences long and translated as “tough”.

At Stage 2, Ofsted appoints an “investigator”. Any implication that there would be something approaching an investigation is misleading. I was not asked for any evidence; no witnesses were spoken to. My complaint was put to the lead inspector and his word was taken. The response evaded some of the issues I raised; addressed others I hadn’t mentioned and included one downright and easily disprovable lie.

For Stage 3 I reiterated many of the points made at Stages 1 and 2. I pointed out the direct lie; this was ignored. I asked again about the inspector’s words at feedback to Governors; I was told again I had “misinterpreted” the meaning. The reason I was not told of the possibility of an RI [requires improvement] judgement until the final meeting was because the evidence “was not clear”. I was asked to believe that by the afternoon of the second day there was no clear evidence until it suddenly emerged at the final team meeting.

Stage 3 is the end of the process but I wrote twice more to Ofsted, copying my letters to Amanda Spielman and Sean Harford. I got two brief, dismissive replies.

Ofsted carries out more than 5,000 school inspections every year: in 2017-18 there were more than 6,000. Yet from 2014 – 15 onwards, despite hundreds of complaints, in more than 20,000 inspections Ofsted did not once admit to a mistaken judgement. No organisation could ever genuinely be infallible like this, but the cavalier, disingenuous and mendacious dismissal of my complaint at every stage illustrates very clearly why judgements are rarely successfully challenged. 

When you judge yourself you can indeed become infallible but wait … it is possible to have an impartial judgement on the way Ofsted handled your complaint by approaching the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO).  Unfortunately, PHSO act as a nothing more than a backstop to dispose of persistent complainants. A glance at the investigation data from 2017 to 2022 shows that in five years there were fifty-seven submitted complaints, only three were investigated with just one partial uphold. PHSO have failed to carry out any investigations into Ofsted in the last three years, so they have nothing to fear for this toothless watchdog. 

Should John be foolish enough to make a complaint about the way in which the Ombudsman handled his complaint, by dismissing it without investigation, he would experience groundhog day as PHSO also handle complaints about themselves internally.

It’s a neat little stitch-up whereby the so-called independent regulators push government agendas to enhance corporate interests.