Research about school inspections (Ofsted)

From around 2014 I have been writing about inspections. First this started with this paper on textmining school inspection reports in R. This included specific work on Ofsted’s views on textbooks.

I then teamed up with Sam Sims and we wrote an article on ‘Demonstrating the potential of text mining for analyzing school inspection reports: a sentiment analysis of 17,000 Ofsted documents’, work which also was presented at AERA 2019.

Together with John Jerrim in 2022 we received funding for expanding our inspectorate work in the project ‘Inspecting the inspectorate: new insights into Ofsted inspections‘.

The first working paper for this project, titled ‘Are some school inspectors more lenient than others?‘ was published on 2 February 2023. Read the press release ‘Male school inspectors award more lenient grades than female inspectors‘. We did a press presentation, for which you can see the slides of the press presentation. We also created a few blogs with a summary of the paper:

Some answers to frequently asked questions are here.

TES magazine published ‘Male Ofsted inspectors ‘give primaries higher grades’’.
Schoolsweek published ‘Female Ofsted inspectors hand out harsher grades, study suggests’.
Christian wrote the column ‘How reliable are Ofsted inspections?‘ for TES magazine.
Sam wrote the column ‘Ofsted reform should focus on inspection reliability first‘ for Schoolsweek.

Separate from our Nuffield project we also published further work on Ofsted inspections: ‘How Useful are Ofsted Inspection judgements for Informing Secondary School Choice?‘.

TES magazine covered the work in ‘Ofsted grades ‘not particularly useful’ for parents‘.
Sam wrote the blog ‘Are Ofsted inspections helpful for choosing secondary schools?‘ for FFT education datalab.
Christian wrote the column ‘School choice: Do Ofsted judgements really matter?‘ for TES magazine.

In covering Labour’s education plans, Schoolsweek reported on both recent studies (the one on selection effects and the usefulness of inspections for parents). Labour’s Bridget Phillipson explicitly mentions our selection effect work for the Nuffield project. TES also did, but less explicitly.