Shake up for Ofsted inspections of deaf children

Last week, I blogged about the first of two interim reports from the Lamb inquiry into parental confidence in the SEN system. The second one looked at an issue which NDCS has been pestering the Government about for ages – the deaf awareness of Ofsted inspectors.

The pestering commenced last summer when we published our Must do better! report into the barriers holding deaf children back at school. In it, we called for a stronger focus on deafness at Ofsted, pointing out that if inspections of provision for deaf children are not conducted with the necessary rigour, underpinned by good awareness and expertise in deafness, Ofsted cannot play an effective role in driving up standards for deaf children. If the line sounds rehearsed, then it’s because it’s something I’ve been saying with alarming regularity since then.

For example, earlier this year, we asked Glenda Jackson MP to table a PQ about it which elicited an interesting reply from Ofsted. We followed this by briefing the Children, Schools and Families Select Committee on this issue. John Heppell MP directly challenged the Head of Ofsted on the issue. And more recently, we sent a submission to the Lamb inquiry highlighting some of the examples we’d come across of Ofsted inspectors being deaf unaware.

All of this has culminated in the Lamb inquiry proposing that a) Ofsted inspectors should be specifically required to report on provision for children with special educational needs in all school reports and b) that inspectors should have more disability awareness training. The Government has already accepted these recommendations.

I’m not sure NDCS can take all of the credit for this, but I think we’ve been a leading figure in putting the issue on the agenda. If anything, we deserve an award for refusing to shut up about it. And now we’ve got a great result which should result in big improvements in the way Ofsted do inspections.

What do you think? Do you think it will have a positive impact? Leave a comment below with your thoughts.