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Title: An exploration of the development of the Ofsted criteria for evaluating the quality of teaching in mainstream schools and how the criteria are perceived and used by primary school headteachers and teachers
Author: McVeigh, Helena
ISNI:       0000 0004 5921 9816
Awarding Body: University of Roehampton
Current Institution: University of Roehampton
Date of Award: 2016
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This thesis was inspired by my over 20 years’ experience of inspecting schools, including as one of Her Majesty’s Inspectors from 1991 to 2000. The research’s main aims were to review the development of the criteria devised by Ofsted by which inspectors judge the quality of teaching in mainstream schools and to gain primary headteachers’ and teachers’ views on the criteria and their enactment. The thesis analyses the development of the criteria since the first Ofsted inspections in 1993, and considers possible influences of government policies and educational research. I interviewed three former and one current HMI to explore their perspectives about the development of the criteria, and ten primary headteachers and pairs of teachers from their schools to hear their views. I applied Bourdieu’s thinking tools of habitus and field to interpret the roles of the different actors involved in the preparation and enactment of the teaching criteria. The findings suggest a hierarchy in what I have called the ‘field of inspection’, with HMI wielding significant symbolic capital because of their role as authors of the criteria and overseers of quality. Since 2012, the combination of a new HMCI and government has thrown the quality of teaching into the limelight, raised the stakes of the Ofsted outcome for schools and resulted in much public criticism of Ofsted inspections. Ofsted has responded to criticism over the years resulting in frequent changes to the inspection guidance and criteria, but the language of the criteria remains imprecise and open to interpretation. The thesis concludes that the frequent changes reflect what Bourdieu called ‘misrecognition’ by Ofsted of the significance of the inspection outcome to schools and the lengths that headteachers and teachers are prepared to go to get a ‘good Ofsted outcome’.
Supervisor: Race, Richard ; Hoskins, Kathryn Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Ofsted ; inspection ; Bourdieu ; criteria ; teaching ; Primary schools