Emotions and school inspection: an exploration of the way primary and prepartory school teachers in the state and independent sector experience OFSTED and ISI

PhD Thesis

Cohen, H. 2019. Emotions and school inspection: an exploration of the way primary and prepartory school teachers in the state and independent sector experience OFSTED and ISI. PhD Thesis Canterbury Christ Church University School of Childhood and Educational Sciences
AuthorsCohen, H.
TypePhD Thesis
Qualification nameDoctor of Education

School inspection is a complex and highly politicised topic in education, with Ofsted (Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills) being a key focus discussed by teachers and in the media (Ball, 2013; Cullingford, 1999). This thesis research explores teachers’ emotional responses to school inspection, comparing the state and independent sectors. Through interviews with teachers from each sector it investigates the source of the teachers’ emotional responses, whether it be the leadership of the school or the inspections.

The analysis of these responses is considered using a new, four-strand model, drawing on common threads from Fullan (2008) and Barnes (2012), to include: reassurance and support, mutual professional respect, collaborative approaches and open dialogue. These are explored across the boundaries of state and independent sector schools and their specific inspectorates, Ofsted and ISI (Independent Schools Inspectorate).

New knowledge is formed using the new, four-strand model, which looks at the leadership of the schools themselves as well as inspections. Regarding ISI and the independent sector this research has new findings about teachers’ emotional response to inspection, concluding that inspection by ISI is a peer review process which reflects the practice in the schools of those interviewed. Regarding Ofsted this research concurs with previous research (Jeffrey and Woods, 1998;Cullingford, 1999; Perryman, 2007; Perryman, 2009; Perry, 2014; Hopkins et al., 2016), showing Ofsted to be a judgmental regime based on data, creating a climate of fear. This negatively affects teacher morale, collaboration and the ability to have an open dialogue with those who could provide support and advice. Finally this research recommends a model for future school inspection to promote more positive emotional responses to inspection, building on the ideas of peer review that are present in the ISI inspection framework and introducing critical friendship, as outlined by Bassot (2013), making it a process of critique rather than of criticism.

KeywordsSchool inspection; Ofsted; ISI; Emotional response
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Deposited20 May 2020
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