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Pushing Back to Ofsted

Pushing Back to Ofsted

Pushing Back to Ofsted

Safeguarding and the Legitimacy of Ofsted’s Inspection Judgements – A Critical Case Study
by Richard House

Ofsted – England’s schools inspectorate, the Office for Standards in Education – was founded in 1992, with Chris Woodhead an early Chief Inspector. In 1999, Woodhead chillingly said, ‘[Ofsted] is a very fine, sharp instrument… We will be exposing inadequate provision wherever we find it.’ Schools and teachers across the land have been subjected to Ofsted’s ‘sharp instrument’ ever since; but rarely have schools feeling violated by the sharp instrument felt able to push back, and so challenge judgements underpinned by Ofsted’s neoliberal Audit Culture ideology, and its compliance-demanding accountability regime.

In this book, Richard House sets out in relentless detail the shortcomings of an Ofsted inspection report that was used as the pretext for forcibly closing Wynstones School, Whaddon, Gloucestershire in January 2020. Wynstones is a Steiner school, but the book shows how a one-size-fits-all evaluation approach can perpetrate a kind of ‘violence’ upon any pedagogical approach which cannot be shoe-horned into the mainstream paradigm. The book critically deconstructs Ofsted’s whole approach to safeguarding and risk, and reproduces a detailed questionnaire survey of the impact of the school’s closure on its traumatised families.

Pushing Back to Ofsted shows the way for any school which feels unfairly targeted by Ofsted’s judgements, and which wishes to push back. Teachers, heads, sociologists of education and policy-studies specialists will find this book indispensable and disturbing reading.

Foreword by Professor Saville Kushner

Afterword by Kevin Avison

"…This analysis of one significant but not unique example of the problems that can arise with school inspections is an uncomfortable but necessary challenge to current educational orthodoxies."
Dr ROWAN WILLIAMS, former Archbishop of Canterbury, University of Cambridge

"Richard House’s surgical analysis throws into high relief two questions…: (i) what constitutes a ‘good education’?; and (ii) What does it mean to speak of the professionalism of teachers?... OFSTED is ill-equipped to address, let alone provide cogent answers to, these questions. Its adherence to some of the worst aspects of our accountability culture results in the seemingly dogmatic application of an ideology totally at variance with an understanding of education informed by worldviews embracing very different concepts of the person and of learning."
PROFESSOR BRIAN THORNE, Emeritus Professor of Counselling, University of East Anglia, and former Professor of Education, College of Teachers

"It seems extraordinary that Ofsted, with its insistence on protocol as the answer to everything, does not itself have a well worked-out protocol for how it will assess institutions meeting educational need by other means."
PROFESSOR DAME MARILYN STRATHERN, Social Anthropologist, editor of Audit Cultures

"…Ofsted’s view of ‘a good education’ has become a narrow rigid focus on educational outcomes that works against rather than with teachers’ professionalism, [leading to] the sidelining of creativity and critical thinking skills, and a reductive understanding of pedagogy and learning processes. As this counter-report convincingly demonstrates, an inflexible tick-box mentality that rigidly pre-defines what a ‘good’ school should look like is no way to assess the rich complexity of schools such as Wynstones."
PROFESSOR DIANE REAY, University of Cambridge

An InterActions title
126 pages
ISBN 9780952836421

Contacting the author:
Richard House may be contacted via email:

Reviews - please see the following links:

Schools Week. Review by Nigel Gann, July 26th 2020:

Review by Dr Faysal Makdadi, a former Ofsted inspector:

Review published in the Morning Star:

Review by Matthew Barton in New View:
or the same as tinyurl: https://tinyurl.com/y2wn7obd


Product Code: PBTO
Weight 300.00 gm
Price: £10.99