Yes, it's official, Ofsted is finally going digital.
Collecting inspection evidence with a clipboard, pen and paper. Compiling the handwritten forms and sending it to the evidence collection centre. Scanning the documents and storing them as PDF. It is all a little bit 20th century - says Sean Harford, the National Director of UK Schools Regulator, Ofsted. And we can’t help but nod in agreement.
In a bid to keep up with the times and boost back-office efficiency, Ofsted is leaving behind the ink and paper and bringing in tablets loaded with Ofsted’s newly developed Electronic Evidence Gathering (EEG) tool, which will enable inspectors to gather, share and store inspection evidence electronically.
The first phase of the programme has been kicked off in September, after trialling the tool in a successful nationwide pilot programme.
"The EEG tool will transform the way inspectors do their day-to-day work. It will make note-taking easier and less time-consuming for inspectors, while still ensuring a robustly-captured evidence base. Inspectors will no longer have to collate and post their paper evidence forms to our evidence collection centre, so we will also see less time spent on routine administrative tasks, and there will be cost savings in relation to printing and mailing”, says Sean Harford.
The best part is, it will also pave the way to increase the transparency of Ofsted inspections. As the EEG tool captures the date and time the notes are recorded during the inspections, enables real-time sharing of evidence and leaves an audit trail of any amendments made to the recorded documents, it is expected to help build greater confidence among schools and childcare providers in the entire inspection process.
It is also touted to set the stage for a wider modernisation programme across Ofsted.
Kudos to Ofsted for taking the first big step towards transformation!