chapter  8
19 Pages

Does Ofsted make a difference? Inspection issues and socially deprived schools

WithSue Law and Derek Glover 1 48

The link between inspection and improvement has, over recent years, become a key focus of educational investigation for many authors (Scheerens, 1 992, 1 997; Hargreaves, 1995; Wilcox and Gray, 1 996; Earley, 1998; Stark, 1998; Stoll and Myers, 1 998) . Moreover, the kind of 'school improvement' strategies and theories outlined in Barber (1998) and Barber and Dann (1996) underpin many of the approaches now framing Government-driven efforts to drive up educational standards across the United Kingdom. Although the establishment of a new Ofsted inspection system in 1 992 implicitly suggested that school improvement was a 'new' concern, the reality was that a thriving 'effective schools movement' (ESM) had been in existence for some years, involving researchers, Local Education Authorities (LEAs) and a variety of individual self-evaluating schools (Reynolds, 1992) . Indeed, Rutter et al's (1979) Fifteen Thousand Hours investigation of secondary schooling had, 20 years ago, shown that 'schools can make a difference' , while the decades following have seen a growing identification and evaluation of the key factors supporting pupil achievement in even the most difficult of social contexts.