Are some school inspectors more lenient than others?
Think tank: CEPEO
Author(s): Christian Bokhove; John Jerrim; Sam Sims
February 8, 2023
This report from UK think tank CEPEO looks at consistency of school inspections, including how judgements vary across inspectors with different characteristics.
School inspections are a common feature of education systems across the world. These involve trained professionals visiting schools and reaching a high-stakes judgement about the quality of education they provide. By their nature, school inspections rely upon professional judgement, with different inspectors potentially putting more emphasis on certain areas than others. Yet there is currently little academic evidence investigating the consistency of school inspections, including how judgements vary across inspectors with different characteristics. We present new empirical evidence on this matter, drawing upon data from more than 30,000 school inspections conducted in England between 2011 and 2019. Male inspectors are found to award slightly more lenient judgements to primary schools than their female counterparts, while permanent Ofsted employees (Her Majesty’s Inspectors) are found to be harsher than those who inspect schools on a freelance basis (Ofsted Inspectors).