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The effectiveness of the Office for Standards in Education (OFSTED) inspection process in England as an accountability mechanism and its influence upon whole school improvement in English maintained schools


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Vann, BJ 2005 , 'The effectiveness of the Office for Standards in Education (OFSTED) inspection process in England as an accountability mechanism and its influence upon whole school improvement in English maintained schools', PhD thesis, University of Tasmania.

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The research questions addressed in this thesis are: How effective is the OFSTED
process as an accountability mechanism? And, does whole school inspection lead to
school improvement?
The literature of school effectiveness and school improvement is reviewed followed by
an outline of the evidence of school improvement offered by OFSTED from 1996 as a
context for the inspection outcomes and subsequent improvement or not, in four case
study schools. An attempt is made to link the OFSTED mantra of "Improvement
through Inspection" to the inspection process as experienced by the schools in the
study. In addition, a brief context is provided that outlines the systemic change
processes and accountability processes that were prevalent in the education systems
of the largely English-speaking world at the time of OFSTED's inception and more
recently. A comparison is made between OFSTED and the international examples
before detailing the research on OFSTED's effectiveness and the government
The ethnographic methodology used is justified, aware of the potential difficulties
attached where the researcher is also the headteacher of one of the four case study
Results from the case studies allow discussion of the differences in approach from the
headteachers to the inspection process and the possible consequences of their
actions. Other issues arising from the case studies include: the relevance of the timing of the inspections within the evolution of the OFSTED process; the situation of the
schools at the time of their inspections; the relationships between stakeholders within
the schools, particularly the apparent marginalisation of the governors from the
process; the communities' perceptions of the schools and the personal disposition of
the headteachers towards the OFSTED process. Inconsistencies in the OFSTED
process as experienced by the study schools were found to include the lack of
credibility given to the OFSTED process by some teachers and senior staff in the
schools and the manner in which the schools acknowledged the validity of the
inspection judgements.
The thesis concludes by using the research evidence from this study to pose tentative
conclusions about how effective the OFSTED inspection is as an accountability
process and whether whole school inspection leads to school improvement. It reviews
the constraints and limitations of the evidence and indicates areas for further

Item Type: Thesis - PhD
Authors/Creators:Vann, BJ
Keywords: Great Britain. Office for Standards in Education (England), School supervision, School management and organization, School principals
Copyright Holders: The Author
Copyright Information:

Copyright 2005 the Author - The University is continuing to endeavour to trace the copyright
owner(s) and in the meantime this item has been reproduced here in good faith. We
would be pleased to hear from the copyright owner(s).

Additional Information:

Available for library use only and copying in accordance with the Copyright Act 1968, as amended. Thesis (PhD)--University of Tasmania, 2006. Includes bibliographical references. Ch. 1. Introduction -- Ch. 2. Literature review - school effectiveness, school improvement and the Office for Standards in Education -- Ch. 3. The Office for Standards in Education (OFSTED) -- Ch. 4. Methodology -- Ch. 5. Case study: school A -- Ch. 6. Case studies of schools A (second inspection), B (two inspections), C, and D -- Ch. 7. Differences in inspection and their consequences -- Summary of findings, conclusions, implications, and recommendations for further study

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