Ofsted launched its new inspection framework this week, heralding a raft of changes to the accountability system including a move away from a data-focused approach to curriculum-focused inspections.
Ofsted’s first public address on the launch was made at the Schools North East’s Northern Governance Conference yesterday where Lee Owston, Senior HMI and Michael Reeves, HMI, explained the rationale behind the changes and the experiences of more than 250 pilot test inspections.
In a move described by Mr Owston as an “evolution of what has come before, not revolution”, the key headlines in the new framework are:
- New quality of education judgement – as expected, the new framework moves away from data to a curriculum focus. Ofsted says there will be a one-year transition window for schools to adjust to new requirements in this area.
- Separation of personal development and behaviour judgements – nearly 8 in 10 consultation respondents were in favour of this move. Ofsted inspectors will be expected to take account of the different behaviour and attitudes reflecting realities faced by schools working in more challenging areas. Grade descriptors for bullying have been revised following concerns raised during the consultation.
- Section 8 inspections – Ofsted has altered its plans to move all S.8 inspections of ‘Good’ schools from 1 to 2 days. Secondary schools, larger primaries, special schools and pupil referral units will move to 2-day inspections. Smaller primaries/first schools (under 150 pupils) will remain at 1 day inspection.
- On-site preparation – The most controversial element of the new proposals – that inspectors will be on-site for half a day prior to inspection – has been scrapped in favour of a 90-minute telephone conversation with the Head Teacher on the day before the inspection.
- Internal data – Ofsted is going ahead with its intention not to take internal data into account. Instead, it will allow Heads to present data only as a means of demonstrating what they have learnt and understand from it, and what actions the school is taking as a result of its internal information.
Speaking at the Schools North East Northern Governance Conference yesterday, Mr Owston said the new framework was based on Ofsted’s most rigorous approach to date with a strong focus on national and international research, pilots and over 11,000 submissions to its consultation.
Three quarters of respondents were in favour of the shift to the new Quality of Education judgement, with 75% of responses stating either ‘agree’ or ‘strongly agree’ with the proposal for the new ‘Quality of Education Judgement’.
A total of 78% replied in favour of separating behaviour and personal development judgements.
The move to 2-day Section 8 inspections saw 56% against the change; while 74% were opposed to inspectors carrying out on-site preparation on the day before inspection.
Included in the new framework is a stronger focus on mental health incorporated into the ‘Personal Development’ judgement.
Mr Reeves also outlined how inspectors will expect leaders to demonstrate how they are supporting teacher wellbeing and workloads.
Other themes emerging from the consultation included:
- Early Years – Ofsted has beefed up its section in line with a shift towards more schools with younger intakes and to align with the Early Years inspection framework.
- List of different pupil groups removed from the start of the framework – in line with the view that inspection is “for all learners”, said Mr Owston. Leaders must have a clear and ambitious vision for providing high quality, inclusive education for all.
- SEND – references to special education have been tightened up in the document.
Governors were told they should consider the curriculum their school has, asking why they have that curriculum and is what unique about their community that supports this.
Schools North East will be holding an Ofsted Update in September – more information coming soon.
You can see more on the framework here.
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