Please show you're working: a critical assessment of the impact of OFSTED inspection on primary teachers

Case, Peter, Case, Susan, and Catling, Simon (2000) Please show you're working: a critical assessment of the impact of OFSTED inspection on primary teachers. British Journal of Sociology of Education, 21 (4). pp. 605-621.

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Education policies introduced in the past two decades necessitated the adoption of a managerialist discourse in the restructuring, running and inspection of schools. In this paper, we critically review the nature of such discourse and outline the historical conditions that contributed to the establishment of OFSTED. Having set the scene, we report on the experiential impact of managerialist discourse on the lives of primary school teachers in the period running up to, including, and in the year following OFSTED inspections. Exploring the accounts of teachers, we draw attention to the effects of intensified control on the overall well being of teachers and, by implication, the quality of classroom experience for children. Foucault's notions of the 'disciplinary regime' and 'normalizing judgement' prove useful in framing teachers' descriptions of themselves feeling professionally compromised, intimidated and stressed by the inspection process. Despite the evident intensity of the OFSTED experience, teachers in our study uniformly indicate that, 1 year after inspection, it has had no lasting impact on what they do in the classroom. If OFSTED has questionable direct influence on teaching practice outside nominal compliance with its formal procedures in the run-up to and during the inspection visit, we are left to question what purpose it actually serves. Our conclusion is that, just as teachers 'stage manage' a performance for the visiting inspectorate, the whole OFSTED apparatus itself is little more than a grand political cipher created and maintained to satisfy the imagined scrutinising gaze of a wider public. In short, OFSTED is stage-managed public 'accountability'.

Item ID: 26836
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1465-3346
Date Deposited: 25 Jun 2013 03:48
FoR Codes: 15 COMMERCE, MANAGEMENT, TOURISM AND SERVICES > 1503 Business and Management > 150310 Organisation and Management Theory @ 100%
SEO Codes: 95 CULTURAL UNDERSTANDING > 9504 Religion and Ethics > 950402 Business Ethics @ 100%
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