Ofsted publishes new inspection framework

Ofsted has released details of its new inspection framework, following a three-month consultation

Ofsted’s consultation on the new inspection framework has concluded, and the organisation has published the outcome of it. The new framework will take effect as of this September.

Ofsted will refocus inspections of schools, early years settings and further education and skills providers, to make sure that learners are receiving a high-quality education that puts them on a path to future success.

Inspectors will spend less time looking at exam results and test data, and more time considering how a nursery, school, college or other education provider has achieved their results.

The changes follow a 3-month public consultation, which prompted more than 15,000 responses – the highest number Ofsted has ever received.

The aim is that schools will be empowered to always put the child first and be actively discouraged from negative practices, such as ‘off-rolling’, where schools remove pupils in their own best interests, rather than that of the pupils. Such schools are likely to find their ‘leadership and management’ judged inadequate under the new framework.

All inspection judgements will continue to be awarded under the current 4-point grading scale: outstanding, good, requires improvement and inadequate.

HM chief inspector, Amanda Spielman, said: “This was the largest-ever consultation Ofsted has undertaken and I am very grateful to all those who took the time to respond.

“The new framework puts the real substance of education at the heart of inspection and supports leaders and teachers who act with integrity. We hope early years, schools and college leaders will no longer feel the need to generate and analyse masses of internal data for inspection. Instead, we want them to spend their time teaching and making a real difference to children’s lives, which is why they entered the profession in the first place.

“Our goal is really simple: to be a force for improvement through our inspections. We want to provide parents with the assurance they need, support teachers and leaders to excel – and help make sure all children and learners to get the education they deserve.”

Dr Mary Bousted, joint general secretary of the National Education Union, has responded to the new framework, saying: “Ofsted is not proposing to abandon data as a key factor in its inspection judgements. Inspectors will still arrive at secondary school armed with data on Attainment 8, Progress 8, the proportion of pupils entered for EBacc subjects and the percentage achieving level 4 and level 5 passes at GCSE English and maths.

“And inspectors will still arrive at primary schools armed with data on KS 2 SATS results, the phonics test and, in time, the times table test and baseline assessment.

“Under the proposed framework, schools and colleges will not be able to contextualise their data in their conversations with inspectors, meaning that they will effectively be judged against national attainment scores which may bear little or no relationship to their own school’s or college’s student population.

“We believe that schools and colleges will still not be evaluated accurately or be provided with worthwhile feedback, and it will remain the case that Ofsted has neither the financial nor the human resources to effectively implement its ambitious inspection proposals.

“Ofsted does not have the capacity to quality assure its own judgements and we do not have confidence in the capacity of inspectors to make judgements on the curriculum, particularly out of their own subject/phase expertise.

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“We also believe that the criteria looking at pupil’s resilience, character attributes and ‘virtues’ encourage a deficit model of mental health and wellbeing rather than looking at measures which assess a whole school approach to social and emotional wellbeing.

“The first step for a radical overhaul of the inspection system would have been the removal of the 4-grade system of judgements, to make space for proper professional conversations about curriculum, and to provide helpful information to support school improvement. Ofsted have woefully missed that opportunity.”

Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, also commented:

Ofsted’s new approach to school inspections is a step in the right direction, but it is not a panacea for all the problems with the inspection system and there is plenty more work to do in the future.

“In particular, it cannot be fair or sensible to continue with the blunt instrument of graded judgements which stigmatise schools with the greatest challenges, making it harder for them to recruit teachers and leaders and to secure sustainable improvement.

In as far as it goes, however, this new inspection system has its heart in the right place with its move to focus more on what is most important – what our children are actually taught in school – and less on arcane school performance measures.

“The fact that this shift in thinking has received so much support in the consultation conducted by Ofsted reflects the feedback that ASCL has received from many school leaders.

We are pleased that Ofsted has listened to our objections to its plan for inspectors to arrive in schools to begin on-site preparations the day before inspections start, and that it has now decided to drop this proposal.

“The reality is that once inspectors are on site, the inspection has started, and same-day notice inspections would have disrupted the normal running of schools.

Ofsted has also changed its section on the English Baccalaureate for the better by making it clear that the idea of these subjects being taken up by 75% of pupils by 2022 is the government’s national ambition, not a target for any individual school, and that inspectors will not base judgements solely on progress towards this ambition. We would have preferred this section to have been removed in its entirety however.

We are pleased that Ofsted has indicated that it will give schools time to make changes to the curriculum without being negatively judged. However, we are not convinced that its intention to review this transitional phase in the summer of 2020 is long enough to make and embed changes to the curriculum, and we think this period may need to be extended.

“We note that Ofsted has adapted its plans for inspections of small schools rated good. We agree that there should be a difference in scope between section 5 and section 8 inspections, but all inspections must be of the same high quality and all schools must have the same opportunity to showcase their provision.

“We look forward to speaking to Ofsted about how these adapted plans will ensure the quality and equity of inspection is maintained in small schools.”

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