Ofsted orders review into wiped evidence claims

It has been revealed how technical glitches force inspectors to re-record inspection evidence, sometimes from memory

It has been revealed how technical glitches force inspectors to re-record inspection evidence, sometimes from memory

Ofsted chief Sir Martyn Oliver has ordered a “rapid review” of the inspectorate’s system for recording inspection evidence after long-standing issues with data being wiped were revealed.

On Friday, FE Week’s sister publication Schools Week revealed how the electronic evidence gathering (EEG) system has for years suffered glitches that force inspectors to re-record their findings, sometimes from memory after a visit has ended.

Sir Martyn Oliver
Sir Martyn Oliver

Multiple current and former inspectors described situations in which their screen “froze” and evidence “disappeared” in front of their eyes during visits. Others discovered evidence had been wiped upon returning to their hotel room.

Following Schools Week’s story, the Observer also covered the problems, as well as claims inspectors had been forced to “make up” evidence after the system crashed.

An Ofsted spokesperson told Schools Week it had seen “nothing to support the claim that evidence has been ‘made up’ – something that would never be tolerated”. 

But they added: “Sir Martyn is initiating a rapid review to satisfy himself that the EEG and the guidance to inspectors is robust. If schools or inspectors have any concerns, we would want to hear about them directly, so we can respond appropriately.”

‘Blame turned back on inspectors’

Current and former inspectors told Schools Week that Ofsted was repeatedly warned about the problems, but initially refused to accept there was something wrong and “blame turned back on the individual inspectors”.

Ofsted said it was “aware that on some occasions inspectors can have issues with the EEG, for example connecting to WiFI due to the provider they are in or to the system itself”.

But they said these issues were “more frequent when the system was first introduced” and inspectors have been “instructed to use other means to record their evidence in these circumstances”. 

The watchdog also said it believed there had “only been a very small number of instances since 2019 where we have declared an inspection incomplete as a result of a technical issue”. This was said to potentially be as low as one or two.

In those instances, “we have then returned to the school to collect more evidence to ensure the judgement is secure”, the watchdog said.

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    • Secret Inspector

      And you can guarantee that each and every inspector who telephoned the EEG ‘helpdesk’ was told “You’re the only one this is happening to… It must be a user or a device error…”

      * Speaking from experience of being told exactly this…

  1. Phillip Hatton

    When you are on an inspection it is stressful enough without the technology letting you down and causing you extra work. Has there ever been a government commissioned piece of IT that has done all that was specified?