Ofsted is highly skilled at blaming the people who work for it for its own shortcomings. Over the years, I worked for a very wide range of companies, including Essex, a local authority with which I'd previously fallen out, Nord Anglia, Tribal, Serco and a smaller company, Penzer Allen. I did most of my work with the last two, and found them highly professional and impartial at all times.
Penzer Allen had a strong personal touch, with excellent administrative staff and managers, some of whom have become friends. They had a rule that an inspector who made a mistake would be supported in putting it right, but would not be hired again if they tried to cover it up. Everyone knew the partners, and successful inspectors would be involved in decision making, training, and representing the company at meetings with Ofsted. It was, nevertheless, rigorous rather than cosy - this was made possible by a shared commitment to rigour and fairness.
SERCO was a larger organisation whose training days might attract 50 or so inspectors. The education side of the company operated independently of its other activities, and should not share in the criticism that has been rightly made of them. It put together well-qualified teams, with particularly strong lead inspectors, and had at its core two highly experienced and incisive leaders who read reports with a critical but fair eye, picking out any conflicts of evidence and ensuring that they lead inspector resolved them properly. Both of these leaders could easily have been senior HMI, and they worked to the same standard. Once again, it was a pleasure to work in such an atmosphere. Intellect was respected and the work was done properly.
The local authority, for which I read reports, worked to the same standard. I was surprised to work with them after my criticism of their performance in teaching reading, but this work was properly carried out.
I've published on this site a letter sent by Tribal to its inspectors, which pretty well sums up that company's approach, and will leave readers to decide whether this is an organisation they would like to work with. I think it's well named.
All I'll say here is that all inspection companies were not alike, and that they did not deserve the same fate.