OFSTED (Office for Standards in Education, Children's Services, and Skills) is a UK government non-ministerial department, reporting to Parliament via the Department of Education. Ofsted plays the responsibility of inspecting different educational institutions, such as state schools as well as several independent schools. Also, Ofsted plays the responsibility of investigating childcare, adoption plus fostering agencies. Additionally, Ofsted deals with initial teacher training and regulates a range of early years and children's social care services.
The services that Ofsted inspects or regulates now include local services, child day care, children's centers, state school, independent schools, and teacher training providers, and work-based learning and skills providers in England. Strategic aims of Ofsted are as follows:
Ø Raising standards- Ofsted aims to promote through inspection and regulation the improvement of care and education service to at least a goods standard, with a particular focus on outcomes for the disadvantaged and vulnerable.
Ø Improving lives- Ofsted aims at supporting the development of a highly educated, safer and productive society, where children, as well as young people, can fulfill their potential and succeed wherever they live and whatever their background, ability or needs.
Ø Improved quality, efficiency, and effectiveness- Ofsted aim to deliver high-quality and consistent inspection and regulation. Under this priority, Ofsted needs to build on the changes introduced in September 2015 to the way it inspects education; review how it inspects early years and social care and who carries out those inspections; transform it's administrative, professional and technical support.
Ø Improved focus- Ofsted targets inspection and regulation where it can add the most value.
Ø Improvement engagement- Working with those Ofsted inspects, and those using their services, to ensure the inspector is credible, valued and trusted and do not introduce unforeseen burdens.
OFSTED aims to raise standards with ‘good’ being the target for each setting and focus on outcomes for the disadvantaged and vulnerable. It also aims to improve lives by supporting children to reach their potential regardless of their particular circumstances.
Some of the key actions that OFSTED has identified that need to be achieved to meet these aims and priorities are:
Ø Ensuring consistency of inspections as well as enhanced use of outstanding and good practitioners to carry out inspections and building on the organization's outcomes-focused framework;
Ø Additionally taking into consideration more proportionate social care evaluations once the current assessment cycle is completed and collaborating with existing leaders in evaluation area;
Ø Utilizing data as well as offering the best administrative and technical support to evaluators;
Ø Focusing evaluations on services whose performance have declined or not doing well:
Ø Focusing on disadvantaged and vulnerable performance in inspections which will feed into judgments;
Ø Promoting first class leadership within schools and recognizing this;
Ø Enhancing the focus on safeguarding including preventing radicalization;
Ø Working closely with parents, careers, employers, learners, and incorporating the ideas they have into enhancing the manner in which Ofsted perform its work; and
Ø Working closely with those that Ofsted inspects so that they understand its inspection and regulatory work.
Ofsted has a clearly stated responsibility of safeguarding the interests of all kids, learners as well as employers who utilize the services it inspects. The public service serves a useful purpose; it helps in ensuring that everyone meets the set standard and performing their respective jobs correctly while aiding in pinpointing any key areas for development.
The inspectorate has been widely criticized for demoralizing teachers and stagnating school improvement. According to Ehren and MacBeath (2016), many teachers and head teachers feel that Ofsted does more harm than good: inaccuracy and inconsistency of Ofsted grading; and inspectors with poor qualifications as well as disrespectful when communicating with schools or have a stereotyped view of teaching and leadership. Ofsted seems to be the major causes of stagnating improvement as the fear of ‘being Ofsted-ed' has produced a risk against the school system. It is no wonder that many would argue to abolish this educational program.