Ofsted launches consultation for new inspection framework

Ofsted is due to publish its new consultation for a new and improved inspection framework today

Today, Ofsted will publish a new consultation outlining its proposal for changes to the education inspection framework.

This new framework aims to rebalance inspections to ensure that the quality of education is taken into account across the board. Rather than simply taking exam results and test data at face value, Ofsted will now look at how a nursery, school, college or other provider’s results have actually been achieved.

Ofsted’s research has found that some children are having their teaching narrowed in schools in order to boost performance table points. For example, in many primary schools, children are spending their time repeatedly reading comprehension tests rather than entire books.

In secondary schools, pupils have to pick their exam subjects a year early, meaning some may miss out on their preferred topics.

Also, at GCSE level, pupils are being discouraged from studying Ebacc subjects and towards ‘easier’ subjects.

In early years, instead of spending time reading to children, or playing with them, nursery staff feel pressured into completing endless documentation to demonstrate each stage of a child’s development.

The new framework will seek to tackle these practices, looking instead at every stage of education from nursery to college, whether young people are being offered a rich curriculum which is taught well and leads to them achieving their all.

The key proposals for consultation include:

  • A new ‘quality of education’ judgement, with the curriculum at its heart
  • Looking at outcomes in context and whether they are the result of a coherently planned curriculum, delivered well
  • No longer using schools’ internal performance data as inspection evidence, to ensure inspection does not create unnecessary work for teachers
  • Separate judgements about learners’ ‘personal development’ and ‘behaviour and attitudes’
  • Extending on-site time for short inspections of good schools to two days, to ensure inspectors have sufficient opportunity to gather evidence that a school remains good

The ‘leadership and management’ judgement will remain, and will include looking at how leaders develop teachers and staff, while taking their workload and wellbeing into account. Inspectors will continue to make an overall effectiveness judgement about a provider.

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The new framework builds on our existing expertise but marks a change in emphasis towards the substance of education. Shifting the emphasis away from performance data will empower schools to always put the child first and actively discourage negative practices such as off-rolling.

Ofsted has also responded to the demand for parents to give better information about how well behaviour is managed in a school. A new separate behaviour judgement will assess whether schools are creating a calm, well-managed environment free from bullying.

Launching the consultation in a speech to the Sixth Form Colleges Association, Her Majesty’s chief inspector, Amanda Spielman, will say:

“The new quality of education judgement will look at how providers are deciding what to teach and why, how well they are doing it and whether it is leading to strong outcomes for young people. This will reward those who are ambitious and make sure that young people accumulate rich, well-connected knowledge and develop strong skills using this knowledge.

“This is all about raising true standards. Nothing is more pernicious to these than a culture of curriculum narrowing and teaching to the test.”

She will continue: “Two words sum up my ambition for the framework: substance and integrity. The substance that has all children and young people exposed to the best that has been thought and said, achieve highly and set up to succeed.

“And the integrity that makes sure every child and young person is treated as an individual with potential to be unlocked, and staff as experts in their subject or field, not just as data gatherers and process managers. And above all that you are rewarded for doing the right thing.

“Ofsted is committed to making sure that any changes to the inspection framework and approach are fair, reliable and valid.”

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