New Ofsted inspection framework launched

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

Further Reading:

TES – Ofsted drops plan to arrive with almost no notice

Schools Week – Inspectors will talk to teachers, not look at spreadsheets


NE schools sign up to Baseline Assessment pilot – survey

Almost 62% of schools responding to a Schools North East survey confirmed they have signed up to take part in the new Reception Baseline Assessment pilot.

Of the 152 respondents, the majority said they had chosen to take part in the pilot, with a large proportion of those citing the reason as wanting to be prepared for the tests being made statutory.

A third said they were engaging in the pilot because they expect the tests to become statutory and wanted to prepare. A minority suggested that they wanted to give feedback and shape the development of the assessments, with most feeling that the statutory introduction of the tests were ‘inevitable’, and so choosing to prepare staff early.

However, even of those schools who chose to take part, a proportion expressed disagreement in principle, but still felt it was better to be prepared. Of schools who chose not to be involved, a majority disagreed with the testing of 4-5 year olds.

Further reading:

DfE – Reception Baseline Assessment

TES – Baseline pilot snubbed by more than 7,000 schools

Schools Week – 9,600 schools sign up to baseline assessment pilot

Education Links w/c 13/5/19 – Chronicle Live, Ofsted inspectors hear ‘racist and homophobic’ language as school is rated ‘inadequate’ for first time. – Chronicle Live, Plans to move Gateshead special school to new site to cope with huge demand for places gathers place. – Chronicle Live, Children missing out on careers in creative industries as schools ‘downgrade’ arts subjects. – Chronicle Live, Struggling Millfield Community Nursery could close over rising deficit and falling pupil numbers. – Chronicle Live, Tyneside schoolkids rise to the cycling challenge. – Darlington & Stockton Times, Inspectors reveal ‘significant concerns’ over Stockton’s SEND care. – The Northern Echo, Hummersknott Academy student smash fundraising record for charity. – Berwick Advertiser, Ellingham Primary gets ‘good’ rating. – Berwick Advertiser, Dogs provide stress relief to students. – Sunderland Echo, ‘Let them be kids’ – parents call for end of ‘pointless’ SATs in primary school. – Sunderland Echo, This is how every secondary school in Sunderland was rated at its latest Ofsted inspection. – Gazette Live, ‘They’ve washed their hands of him’: Mum-of-six’s fury after special needs son excluded by school. – Gazette Live, Pair accused of burglary at Stockton Primary School where laptop was pinched. – Gazette Live, ‘Better teaching and determined leadership’: How once struggling school is making progress. – Mums outrage after youngsters banned from playing netball – because they’re boys. – Hartlepool Mail, This is how every school in Hartlepool was rated at its latest Ofsted inspection. – Northumberland Gazette, Surf’s up for Seahouses pupils.

Two North East Schools make Edtech 50 Schools list

Two North East Schools have been chosen as part of the Edtech 50 Schools, a campaign run by The Education Foundation.

The campaign aimed to find schools who are using technology in an innovative but focused way to support great teaching and enhance learning.

Stephenson Memorial Primary School is one of the schools on the list due to its status as an Apple Distinguished School. The school runs a
1:1 iPad leasing scheme for all children in Key Stage 2, which is due to be extended to Key Stage 1. Work by the school has shown that children who had 1:1 iPads have made more progress than those who did not. Moreover the school has seen positive results in outcomes for SEN boy pupils as well as school SAT results.

Another school on the list is Hadrian Primary School, South Shields was chosen for integrating technology across all areas of school life, from learning, teaching and assessment to communication with parents.

The school has given students a real audience for their work by using social media positively. One of the judges noted “the improvements in results and in aspirations of pupils to succeed stand out. Technology is embedded across the school, but I like the way staff and pupils are still looking at ways to develop further and encouraging enjoyment to learn. Being able to reach a real audience opens a window into the world and has impacted on writing standards.”

Alongside the two schools who made it on to the list, two were listed as ‘Ones to Note’. Acklam Grange in Middlesbrough was highlighted for the school’s use of Microsoft One Note in Flipped Learning and how the approach has revolutionised management meetings and made cost savings. Monkhouse Primary in North Shields was noted for it’s use of 1:1 iPads.

You can read the full Edtech 50 Schools here.

DfE announces free meals and activities for 50,000 children over 2019 summer holidays

Over £9 million in funding will be available for schemes to provide free meals and activities for up to 50,000 disadvantaged children over the 2019 summer holidays. Activities include sports and healthy cooking classes, as well as targeted support for the most vulnerable children.

Two of the eleven organisations which will receive funding are based in the North East – Street Games in Newcastle and Gateshead Council. The funding comes on the back of a similar programme which saw £2 million of funding delivered in 2018 for 18,000 students.

David White, StreetGames Fit and Fed Campaign Director, said: ‘Since 2016, StreetGames has led the Fit and Fed campaign to reclaim the holidays for those children and young people at risk of holiday hunger, inactivity, and loneliness. In 2018 we worked with the Department for Education to successfully establish 14 clusters of free-to-access holiday activity programmes across England, and we are delighted to be collaborating again, along with our partners at Newcastle City Council to develop a comprehensive programme across Newcastle-upon-Tyne. We have already engaged more than 100 schools, sports clubs, and community groups across the city.’

For more information on the programme see the DfE Website

Quarter of teachers have witnessed off-rolling according to Ofsted

A poll of 1000 teachers across England showed that a quarter had witnessed off-rolling, and two thirds believed the practice was increasing.

The teachers survey believed the practice was used in order to manipulate league table positions. A fifth of respondents said there was no follow-up with pupils who left.

Ofsted’s Chief Inspector, Amanda Spielman, found the findings “troubling” and suggested that schools are “clearly pushing vulnerable pupils out through the back door with little thought to their next steps and best interests”.

The survey comes as the Timpson review, published this week, described off-rolling and informal exclusion as “quite simply wrong”. Ofsted has warned that it will crack down on schools attempting to off-roll pupils.

More on the story can be found in Schools Week

Education Links w/c 6th May – Chronicle Live, Private grammar school in Durham could expand into Sunderland. – Chronicle Live, The school where a divisive referendum saw teens voting for smarter uniform including blazer and tie. – Darlington & Stockton Times, Gurney Pease Academy creates mural to highlight plastic pollution. – The Northern Echo, Sedgefield school sports company in running for national award. – The Northern Echo, Special needs funding in County Durham could be cut further. – The Northern Echo, Shildon councillor’s mission to end period poverty in primary schools. – The Northern Echo, Awarding body NCFE campaigns for more vocational qualifications instead of GCSE English and Maths. – Berwick Advertiser, Willow is crowned new Ford May Queen. – Sunderland Echo, Exam season: these are the foods you should eat to get the best results, according to a Sunderland expert. – Gazette Live, Failing school to be taken over by Outwood as unions launch ‘no confidence’ ballot in former leadership. – Hartlepool Mail, Hartlepool students give hospital patient a helping hand. – Hartlepool Mail, Hartlepool day nursery receives ‘good’ Ofsted report as it celebrates fifth anniversary.

Pat Sowa tells Healthy MindED conference to ‘model kindess’

Former Head Teacher emphasises the importance of creating a supportive school culture with an open approach to mental health.

Pat Sowa’s keynote speech at the Schools North East Healthy MindED conference focused on changing school culture to being more open and building positive attitudes of kindness. This message applied to staff as well as students, with the former primary head emphasising that this change starts at the top and that staff need to ‘model kindness’ to their students.

Sowa said “Education is not a set of exam results.  It’s a lifelong journey towards understanding ourselves and our world. It’s not a tug of war between mental health and achievement. We need both to be right if we are educating the whole child.”

After losing her 17 year old son in 2017, Sowa has dedicated herself to raising awareness, building understanding and inspiring action to improve mental health in education.

She has a wealth of experience in this area as a member of the Tees Esk Wear Valley NHS Trust Suicide Prevention Advisory group, as well as trustee for Parentkind and an Ambassador for Papyrus, the young suicide prevention charity.

She has also worked with Public Health North Yorkshire to develop their resources to support self-harm and suicide intervention.

In 2017, Sowa set up Starfish, an organisation which offers workshops, training and talks for schools, pupils, staff and organisations on mental health.

Sowa acknowledged the challenges teachers face in dealing with mental health, “As individual teachers and leaders we probably have a range of responses from ‘it’s not our job, I haven’t got the time, money, staff’ to feeling like we want to help but don’t know how or are worried about making it worse.”

However, Sowa firmly believes that despite the challenges, schools should actively be implementing policies and culture to deal with mental health and wellbeing for both pupils and staff. She said “Pro-active mental wellbeing approaches in schools can make a difference because early intervention on most mental health issues improves longer term outcomes. And with 75% of mental health conditions presenting by the age of 18, this is very much the business of schools.”

Keynote speaker Professor Wendy Burn, President of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, also echoed Sowa’s emphasis on schools’ responsibility to proactively deal with mental health and wellbeing. 

“We know that mental health care for our children is inadequate. This has been recognised by the Government and there are now plans to improve it. We will only be able to deliver this improvement if schools and mental health services work together so I am delighted to be speaking at the Healthy MindED conference.”

You can find more coverage of the Healthy MindED conference on Facebook, @schoolsnortheast and Twitter, @schoolsne.

Education Links w/c 29th April – Chronicle Live, Bede Academy welcomes a Royal visitor to celebrate tenth anniversary. – Darlington & Stockton Times, Richmond’s Old Grammar School rescue plan gets cash injection. – Darlington & Stockton Times, Joy as communal effort wins North Yorkshire small school a reprieve. – The Northern Echo, Teesside University to research gender fluidity in sport following Caster Semenya ruling. – The Northern Echo, Schools’ Crisis: More County Durham teachers warn of funding and staff shortage. – The Northern Echo, SATs tests stress affecting mental health of young children. – Berwick Advertiser, Schools invited to celebrate Northumberland Day. – Sunderland Echo, Party time as primary school celebrates 50th birthday. – Sunderland Echo, New start for trouble-hit Sunderland school as it eyes ‘secure future’ with new Headteacher and new trust. – Gazette Live, Guisborough sixth form ‘exceptionally proud’ after positive inspection report. – Gazette Live, Better teaching and improving results – how once struggling college is turning around. – Gazette Live, Overstretched teachers ‘left asking parents for cash’ despite assurances over funding. – Hartlepool Mail, Pupils get first-hand experiences from Holocaust survivor who visited Hartlepool school.

MPs discuss SEND provision

Provision for students with special educational needs and disabilities was the topic of this week’s Education Select Committee, with a panel of representatives from Ofsted and the Quality Care Commission in attendance.

Asked if England has a functioning SEND system, Jonathan Jones said that there is too much duplication of effort by the various bodies involved in providing special education. He reported that inspections often find a disjointed and inconsistent picture, with Local Authorities and schools not working together effectively.

Gill Jones added that there are examples of areas where reforms have been introduced effectively and that many pupils were getting “a good deal” as a result. However, she also said that Ofsted saw many instances of Local Authorities failing to learn from what successful LAs nearby had done to implement SEND reforms.

Robert Halfon, Chair of the Select Committee, asked why the North East was among the worst areas in England for SEND provision. He suggested that it could be because Ofsted deploys its most experienced inspectors in the region and that their judgements may be more critical than those of their less experienced colleagues. However, Jonathan Jones said that this was not the case and that Ofsted inspections are standardised and processes are in place to ensure consistency.

Gateshead MP Ian Mearns asked whether the successful delivery of SEND education was just about leadership or whether resources were also important. Both Ofsted’s Jonathan Jones and the CQC’s Ursula Gallagher agreed that, though it was a multifaceted issue, leadership was most important to success. Jones emphasised that the best examples of SEND provision seen by Ofsted each have in common joined-up leadership and collaborative working.

Gallagher acknowledged, though, that this can be more complex in situations where there are numerous leaders – in large counties, for example, there might be several Clinical Commissioning Groups which means there are more leaders required to work together.

Gill Jones also stated that authorities will not receive a written statement from Ofsted if they have funding challenges, but they could do if leaders are not found to be working together properly.

The Committee also asked whether Ofsted required a more robust role in inspecting SEND provision in England. Gill Jones responded by saying that, at present, inspectors do not always get the time required in order to sufficiently consider SEND provision, but that the proposed new Ofsted framework would allow for more time and a greater focus on SEND pupils.

We know many schools struggle with underfunding for SEND students – please support our #FundOurFuture campaign by visiting to create your banknote to submit to 10 Downing St.