On the reliability of OFSTED inspection of initial teacher training: A case study

Jim Campbell, Chris Husbands

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)


Inspection has been an increasingly important feature of central monitoring of education in the 1990s. This article examines the technical reliability of inspection processes in initial teacher training, drawing extensively on methodology and procedures adopted by the Office for Standards in Education (OFSTED) between 1996 and 1998. A definition of reliability is advanced and tested against the procedures of inspection, especially by examining the security of internal and external judgements at the pass/fail borderline and the moderation and training procedures deployed by OFSTED. The methodology of inspection is found to be insufficiently reliable for the consequences which flow from it. Tensions are explored between the technicist model of inspection underlying OFSTED initial teacher training procedures and the 'informed conoisseurship' model hitherto deployed by members of Her Majesty's Inspectorate. In consequence, there are unresolved tensions between the expressed aspiration for 'improvement through inspection' and the use of inspection to police compliance.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)39-48
Number of pages10
JournalBritish Educational Research Journal
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2000

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