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Why inspectorate ratings are “inadequate”

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez 🇨🇦 on Unsplash

There has been, quite rightly, a lot of soul searching about how that inspection was carried out, but I am unaware of any great examination of the gradings themselves.

My colleagues and I often help clients in the healthcare and education sectors when organisations have been branded “inadequate” by either the Care Quality Commission (CQC) or Ofsted. Rarely does a rating cause more angst.

The very word itself feels less of a reasoned judgement, more an insult. Is such harsh language really necessary? In my view it is clumsy, wounding and potentially even demotivating.

Surely there should be a more constructive wording designed to make the organisation concerned respond appropriately. My personal choice would be “Requires Urgent Improvement”, one down from the current “Requires Improvement” rating.

If there was such a thing as a government life skills inspectorate, my DIY skills would undoubtedly be rated “Inadequate”, with some justification. While accepting of my fate, I would probably feel slighted and certainly demotivated. However, if I was rated “requires urgent improvement’ it does not necessarily brand me as a hopeless case and says if I pull my finger out, there is hope for me. It is certainly more carrot than stick.

A phrase like “Requires Urgent Improvement” also creates a burning platform. It tells a school, a care home or an NHS trust to focus and get on with improving as a top priority.

So, I suggest that rather just than the laudable aim of training inspectors to show more empathy, a simpler more effective change would be for Sir Martyn to lead the way in consigning “Inadequate” ratings to the Room 101 on behalf of both Ofsted and the CQC.

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