Ofsted chief inspector Amanda Spielman looks ahead to implementing a new education inspection framework in 2019
With the end of 2018 fast approaching, we asked the UK's top civil servants to look back at the year, outline their goals for 2019 – and tell us who they’d choose to turn on their town’s Christmas lights. The links on this list will go live as the articles are published in the run up to 2019.
What was your highlight of 2018?
One of my priorities for this year was to improve engagement between Ofsted and the sectors we inspect. Part of that comes from me and my senior team attending events and visiting providers, hearing their views. But the most important part of that work is the professional conversations that happen on inspection. When we get those right, we are acknowledged as constructive and helpful: a real force for improvement. My highlight of 2018 has been the increasing amount of feedback that tells us we are making inspection a more valuable experience.
What was the hardest part of being a leader in 2018?
Communication, internally and externally, is the job that never ends. In a world that is increasingly polarised, with more and more people looking for outrage, it is not easy to maintain the clarity and objectivity that is a fundamental part of being an independent inspectorate. It is our job to identify and report on the poor practices that affect children’s education and put them at risk of harm. I need to communicate those important messages effectively and with impact, but without resorting to hyperbole. It can be a difficult balancing act.
What are the main challenges facing your organisation in the coming year?
In the new year, we will consult publicly on our draft education inspection framework, before its implementation in September 2019. For the last 18 months we have been discussing the principles behind the new framework and sharing our research, and thinking about what needs to change and why. So it won’t come as a surprise to anyone with an interest. But it will be an important, and long overdue, shift in the focus of our inspections – so we need to get it right. That will be even more challenging in the context of a shrinking budget.
Which celebrity or historical figure would you choose to turn on the Christmas lights in your town, and why?
My lights would be turned on by the composer John Gardner, and we would all sing his versions of “Tomorrow Shall Be My Dancing Day” and “The Holly and the Ivy”.
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