Following an extended meeting of the Ofsted Top Brass, major changes to Ofsted inspections are being proposed. The central debate focused on the fundamental role of inspectors: As Good Cop – seeking to improve schools for the youth of tomorrow – or Bad Cop – eradicating inadequacy and the requiring of improvement. However, the Ofsted Chiefs ultimately opted for something altogether more 21st century: Robocop.
In recent times, Ofsted Bigwigs have been stung by criticism of their benevolent operation:
- That it is responsible for stress and anxiety – rather than the real culprits, the bloggers and consultants who continually denigrate their good deeds and play up the Fear Factor.
- That it is no more reliable than guessing or reading directly off the Progress 8 chart.
- That is costs way too much in relation to the costs of all the job adverts for the vacancies it generates.
So they have come up with a cunning plan: Virtual Inspection – an arm’s length approach that schools will barely know is happening, saving a fortune of tax payer’s money and reducing stress to all-time low levels.
Cleverly, Ofsted Boffins have developed an algorithm that allows inspectors to determine a school’s strengths and weaknesses without needing to set foot in the door leading to a full report and overall judgement. The algorithm takes account of 273.8 key factors including:
- The number of students claiming Free School Meals
- The proportion of students designated as EAL
- Where the school’s MAT is placed in the Flavour-of-the-Month MAT Rankings.
- The frequency of phrases like ‘knowledge organiser’, ‘curriculum breadth’, ‘evidence-based practice’, ‘resilience’, ‘British values’, ‘no excuses’, ‘it’s all about the children’ and ‘staff are held robustly to account’ on the school website.
- What Lucy and Mo, two kids at the bus-stop, had to say about detentions and the canteen on their survey responses.
- The last Ofsted grade – (heavily weighting the calculation because keeping it the same is the safest guess you can make)
- A Cambridge Analytica-inspired, Facebook and Google-enabled analysis of all student, parent and teacher online interactions in the last six years.
Early case-studies have shown that this process leads to more convincing final reports and grades than other approaches that have been tried:
- Visiting the school and writing a report after a day or dashing about and flicking through a few books.
- Copying bits of other school’s reports and pasting them in
- Making up an entire report based on a cursory glance at the data
- Repeating the previous report but just changing the date and one or two details so nobody will notice.
In order to support the elaborate ‘desk-top exercise’ carried out entirely by admittedly rather faceless computer hard drives, an ingenious VR/AI interface using almost-real motion capture has been created; the soul of the Robocop system. This will sample lessons, evaluate teachers and undertake book-looks by remote scanning of student work over their shoulders via stealth cameras – cheap to install in every school, saving millions in the long run.
Finally, Robocop-style inspections will require the Headteacher to engage with an online inspector avatar in a gamified VR environment. This will be ‘fun’ and will also provide school leaders with the benefit that it could be done anywhere wifi is available – including hospitals and holiday locations. Headteachers will be asked to answer various innocuous-sounding questions whilst the system reads their bio-data for well-established traits of integrity, papering over the cracks and general competence.
Questions will include:
- Are you or have you ever been guilty of gaming the system?
- Is this really a good school?
- How much do you really care about teacher workload?
- You earn HOW MUCH??
- How many children have you ‘off-rolled’ in circumstances you would rather not discuss in recent weeks?
- How many teachers in the school would be you be happy to teach your own children?
- Where’s the Latin?
- We don’t mandate a three-year KS3, but why don’t you have a three-year KS3?
To make the system seem realistic, various ‘human interactions’ and quips will be programmed in based on various real-life exchanges that have been known to occur:
- ‘In old money, some of the lessons were RI – but that’s between you and me’
- ‘I’m not supposed to ask but, what are your Y11 predictions looking like in Maths?’
- ‘There is no Ofsted expectation of frequency of marking, but we’re not seeing enough marking’
- ‘We could tell it was a [insert grade] school by break time. You can just tell’.
No actual reliability trials have been carried out of the Robocop system – that’s just not how Ofsted rolls – but the general hunch-o-meter suggests strongly that this ground-breaking system will transform inspection. The feeling is that as long as people get reports that seem ok and read reasonably as if they could apply to their school, nobody will really mind. It’s worked for horoscopes for years.
Jimmy Page, HMI told us: “To be honest, after years of blagging my way through all 479 lines of enquiry in the framework it’s a relief; Robocop does all of that in 37 minutes while I tidy up. It’s a godsend.”
Headteacher Nancy Reagan said “It’s a new world. Fifteen minutes with Robocop went in a flash and the report seemed very fair. I hardly recognised the school – but it’s fantastic to get someone else’s perspective. And I’ve got a new job for Fab-MAT next year, which is nice. At least, that’s what the TUPE blurb said. ”