Ofsted are supposedly inspectors taking a snapshot evaluation of a school in order to assess it. But like anything else that is observed and measured, before long the observer and measurer runs the show. In order to help schools pass their Ofsted, Ofsted now lay out a whole set of detailed instructions on precisely what is required to pass. And the schools do as Ofsted says because they do not want to fail. Thus Ofsted run the schools.
The kids take tests too. They want to pass, or to get their target grade. So the examining board, or government, sets out very precise instructions on each subject at each level, and exactly how you get the required number of points. The children do as they are instructed because that’s how you get the points that you need to pass. The school and the kids are expected to behave in the same way.
The control automatically filters down through the testing hierarchy. Ofsted treats the school the same way as it expects the school to treat the kids. In order for the school to pass the Ofsted test, the kids have to pass their tests. The Ofsted test, the test of the school, is dependent on the kids. The kids are required to work for the benefit of the school, and for Ofsted, not for their own education, well being or life.
The new document from Ofsted now has “good” as the minimum requirement. “Satisfactory” is no longer good enough. The school has to be good. So do the kids. The kids have to be good. Ofsted’s definition of “good”. That means obedient. Do as you are told. Phrases like “rigorous”, “relentless” and “core purpose” are used to describe how to be good. The core purpose is to please Ofsted, and that must not be deviated from.
Schools are also controlled by funding. Cash for kids. The kids earn the school money by being there. The school depends on the kids for its survival. To survive, the school must get the kids to perform and behave and attend. The kids are there to support the school, not the school there to support the kids.
Kids should be free! We all should be free.
The Ofsted control mechanism is turning schools into factories which produce obedient unthinking workers. It is training children to be driven by points systems. Children must follow instructions and behave as required. Question nothing. And they must not be allowed to taste freedom. The blueprint for a perfect employee of a big corporation.
Why are schools terrified of failing Ofsted? If you fail an Ofsted, you go into “special measures”. That means you are more closely watched by Ofsted, and you have to do a sort of Ofsted retake fairly often until you pass again. Then Ofsted know that you are well under their control and they leave you alone for a bit. But of course you are not free if you are “good”! You have just proved how incredibly obedient you are, so much so that Ofsted know it is ingrained and they can leave you to stay that way for a few years.
Huge effort is put in to keep schools going at all costs, no matter how much we have to compromise. The system is driven by fear of failure, and the false hope of being free from government control once that test is passed. Somehow the school has become a more important entity than the kids that prop it up.
Maybe a better way would be to refuse to compromise and say that Ofsted failure is a risk worth taking. Have faith that things will work out ok by sticking to our integrity. It is hard to imagine a society without schools, we have become so used to them. But maybe if we let the school system die, something else, something better will rise from the ashes.
(See also earlier post: The Wedding Photographer)