On Air Manx Radio Update Barrie Redfern | 5:30pm - 6:00pm

Manx schools soon to be subject to new 'Ofsted adapted' guidelines

But it remains unlikely that league tables will be collated

The way that schools on the Isle of Man are reviewed will be overhauled from the start of next year.

Over the past 18-months, discussions between educators and the Department of Education, Sport and Culture have formed plans on how best to drive 'continual improvement' in state-run classrooms.

Recently the principal of King William's College suggested education should be a more prominent feature, as part of efforts to attract residents to the Isle of Man.

Critics have previously called for more data to be made available to allow parents to be able to make comparisons between schools.

Researcher David Watts told Manx Radio's Christian Jones, many prospective parents from elsewhere will be used to a 'wealth of information', in the form of league tables and comparison tables:

As Mr Watts mentioned, currently Manx schools are not subject to any external auditing or reviews.

Previously a 'School Self Review and Evaluation' system was in place, but that was likened to setting and marking your own homework, so was stopped.

What we do know is the Department of Education has spent the past 18-months building a new system which uses an adapted version of the Ofsted framework and hopes to give a 'robust' improvement cycle for schools to learn from and improve continually in the long-term.

It's pencilled in to come into effect in January 2024, so that's the first time these guidelines will be gradually phased into schools.

The government are bringing in an external global organisation known as 'Tribal' with a 'bespoke' set of instructions to validate the schools and education services - essentially they'll undertake a review and compare it to the adapted framework.

However, what's the benefit of Tribal carrying out this validation process instead of Ofsted?

What we're told is the way Ofsted work is inspectors go into a school, carry out the audits and then produce a report which says whether you're 'outstanding', 'good', 'require improvement' or are 'inadequate'.

But that's as far as they go, and it's entirely up to the school to fix the issues highlighted.

It's something that has come under fire in the UK, where teachers have critiqued the 'power imbalance' in place during school visits.

An inquest is currently ongoing at Berkshire Coroner's Court into the death of headteacher Ruth Perry, who took her own life in January following an Ofsted inspection.

What Tribal is going to do is carry out the review and compile the report - but then they'll point educators in the right direction in terms of where additional support and resources could be allocated to fix issues that may arise.

Freedom of Information requests to the Department of Education, Sport and Culture are periodically submitted by researchers - such as David Watts - who attempt to produce Isle of Man league tables.

It remains unlikely that the government will consider league tables as a viable option to measure success as it's previously said the datasets only display one measure but fail to look at other aspects within a school such as pastoral care, wellbeing, attainment etc.

The department seems more interested in looking at all aspects of a school in its measure of success, and how they can take a child no matter their background and give the same learning opportunities as someone who may be from a more fortunate background.

The validators from Tribal will be heading into schools in July for the first time.

It's not yet known how long it's expected to take for those reports to be compiled, but that could be the first indication we've had in a long time which examines how schools on the Isle of Man are actually doing.

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