BELMAS Blog

Does Gender Affect OFSTED Grade?

02.05.19

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Author: Martin Matthews

In one of those idle moments having a conversation on social media about gender in education, as you do, the talk turned to if leadership gender had an effect on Ofsted grades. After unpicking the concepts further and understanding the issues of unconscious bias, conscious bias and gender imbalance in leadership I decided to investigate further. To my surprise I could find no research.

As a National Leader of Governance I constantly search for simple ways to improve the system. If we can make small incremental steps which continuously improve, cumulatively things will improve. Often the answers to basic questions have not been closely examined. Sometimes the answers aren’t glamorous but do make life in education a bit better.

The role school governing bodies’ play in the overall education of children has never been as important in holding educators to account for student achievement, attainment and progress. With the reduction in central government and local authority (LA) capacity governance has a real influence on the standards of education delivered.

The aim of this research was to assess if there is any measurable effect on school Ofsted grade related to the gender of head teacher and chair of governors. If a simple gender combination aligns to overall Ofsted grade shouldn’t all schools follow the pattern?

My research was phrased to investigate these questions;

  • Is there a pattern of gender in chairs of governors?
  • Is there an observable effect pattern of gender of head teacher on Ofsted grade?
  • Is there an observable effect pattern of gender of chair of governors on Ofsted grade?
  • Is there an observable effect pattern of gender of head teacher and chair of governors on Ofsted grade?

Traditionally the nomenclature of governance has been stable for a considerable time, since well before world war two. Today governors and head teachers have a variety of names and job titles. At times the names imply a conflict of interest in roles and confusion in accountability and responsibility. This has caused issues where the leadership and management operational and strategic lines blur. In this study all the schools in the study have governors ergo all the chairs of governors are governors not advisory or local.. “Get information about schools” has a specific field for how the educator school leader chooses to be identified. To avoid confusion this study will refer to that person as head teacher.

To make the sample size relevant it was set as at least 10% of the potential estate. There are 16771 maintained primary schools (31 06 16 Ofsted) and 1996 schools were surveyed which is 11.9% of the total estate.

The schools were selected from maintained primary schools as this is the largest single sector with one homogenous group. This is the largest group of schools. The sample was divided into proportionate regional sub groups (figure 1) and again into community, Church of England and Roman Catholic (figure 2). The three dominant groups. Individual schools were randomly chosen by unique reference number (URN).

Table 1 Examples of school type from the sample randomly chosen

 

Ofsted Region

Type of school

East Midlands

East of England

London

North East

North West

South East

South West

West Midlands

Yorkshire and the Humber

Grand Total

Community School

118

120

119

66

203

224

114

120

120

1204

Voluntary Aided School

35

43

77

27

95

72

38

39

42

468

Voluntary Controlled School

38

37

3

15

41

70

42

40

38

324

Grand Total

191

200

199

108

339

366

194

199

200

1996

Sample parameters;

  • If no governors page was found on school website school not used
  • If the chair does not have a clearly self-identified gender via name or title on school governors page sample not used
  • If a head teacher does not have a self-identified gender via name or title from GIAS or school website school not used

Others were applied and are available at the longer study.

Figure 1 Percentage of school type by foundation

Screenshot 2019-05-01 13.25.14

Sixty percent of the sample is a community foundation that means it is a secular school. The Church of England founded thirty percent of the sample. The Roman Catholic Church in England founded ten percent of the sample. Religious foundation types include both voluntary aided and voluntary controlled schools.

Main findings from the study;

The gender of school leaders either individually or in combination does not appear to have any effect on the Ofsted grade.

The system does not appear to show any inherent bias towards one gender or another in the distribution of chairs of governors.

In Roman Catholic schools the percent of female chair of governors who have achieved Ofsted grade 1 (outstanding) and 2 (good) is statistically interesting. The percent of schools achieving grade 1 is the highest in the context of a female head teacher with a female chair of governors. This is 5% higher than the male/male comparator.

When the combined grade one and two figures are examined the combination of female chair of governors and female head teacher reaches 95% which is the highest by 3% of the four combinations.

The percent of male chair of governors male or female head teacher who have achieved Ofsted grade 1 (outstanding) and 2 (good) is very similar with both gender of head teacher. This demonstrates no strong statistical significance.

The percent of female chair of governors male or female head teacher who have achieved Ofsted grade 1 (outstanding) and 2 (good) is very similar with both gender of head teacher. This demonstrates no strong statistical significance.

Summary

The analysis has one major broad conclusion:

Overall the gender of the chair of governors and/or head teacher combination has little perceptible effect on the Ofsted grade of a school.

This is shown by region, by school type and by combinations of the gender of the school leaders.

The balance between male and female chairs of governors is broadly balanced and there does not appear to be a systemic bias.

Martin is a National Leader of Governance, FRSA, holds an MA in Education, and is a regular contributor to our BELMASchats. You can follow him on Twitter here.

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