Innovation and changeDigital TransformationOfsted announces plans to go digital

Ofsted announces plans to go digital

Sean Harford, National Director for Education at Ofsted, has revealed that a new electronic evidence gathering (EEG) tool has been developed for the inspection organisation

Sean Harford, National Director for Education at Ofsted, has revealed that a new electronic evidence gathering (EEG) tool has been developed for the inspection organisation.

The tool has been designed to make the collection and sharing of inspection evidence much more efficient – with work beginning this month to use the tool during the 8,000 plus annual inspections carried out by Ofsted.

Currently, inspectors capture evidence on handwritten forms, which are subsequently collated by the lead inspector and sent to Ofsted’s evidence collection centre, where they are scanned and stored electronically

Writing in a blog post, Harford said: “In line with many other public sector organisations, we decided the time was right for Ofsted to embrace modern technology in ways that make the very best use of our resources. Inspectors will still make notes as they collect evidence, but rather than pen and paper, they will capture these on a tablet. The EEG tool recognises their individual handwriting and turns it into clearly printed text on their screens. Inspectors can also input information by typing on a laptop, or through voice recognition software, where this wouldn’t disturb the work of the school.

“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.”

Harford continued on to say that the EEG is very much part of Ofsted’s strategy to be a force for improvement through intelligent, responsible and focused inspection and regulation. It will streamline the way inspectors gather and share evidence. And it will make collation of evidence across themes and areas of practice significantly easier for Ofsted, which will be of huge benefit to its research programme.

Positive feedback

Pilots of the EEG have been positive so far. Harford wrote: “I’m pleased to report that these pilot inspections were very successful. In the schools involved, leaders, teachers, pupils and governors all told us they found the EEG system effective and efficient. Schools and pupils were unequivocal that EEG didn’t hinder discussions during inspection, or act as a barrier.

“Leaders and pupils also told us that EEG feels less obtrusive than handwritten evidence forms. In fact, some providers felt that the benefits of inspectors sharing real-time evidence electronically gave them greater confidence in the inspection process.”

The full blog post can be read here.

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