The report, Local authority reactions to the Ofsted inspection process, carried out by the National Foundation for Education Research and commissioned by the Local Government Association, analysed the experience of four councils picked to represent four different types - each of which had received a bad Ofsted report.
In all cases, a dramatic drop in staff morale was noted along with real fears about outsourcing. Council officers said they experienced a range of feelings from outrage to disappointment. This was exacerbated by the 'greater humiliation' suffered by the tone, language and delivery of the report by inspectors. Bad publicity compounded the situation.
None of the education departments had expected their report to be as damming and all were surprised by the severity.
In each case, the report had a profound effect on the whole council.
'The entire council was brought face to face with how it managed all its services, how it worked in its partnerships and how its reputation as a service provider was viewed,' the report said.
'Poor performance of an education department was sometimes seen as a reflection upon practice in other departments. As publicity abounded, staff felt exposed.'
A common factor which inspired success in turning an education department around was the freedom for a council to employ a new high-calibre top management team without the usual constraints on salaries and conditions.