New short inspections “a proven success”, Senior HMI tells SCHOOLS NorthEast delegates

One of the most senior Ofsted figures for the region has said that short inspections are a proven success, as the vast majority of schools remain ‘good’ or achieve ‘outstanding’ – a picture mirrored by the North East as well.

Speaking at the termly SCHOOLS NorthEast Ofsted Briefings, Her Majesty’s Inspector Joan Hewitt said the inspectorate’s primary focus now is clearing a backlog of schools that are more than three years outside of their last inspection. However, she reiterated that any school could expect an inspection.

Ms Hewitt said the real focus will be targeting these “legacy schools” that have been graded as ‘good’ for as long as five years and Ofsted will work on getting the numbers down.

Her briefing had a focus on reducing teacher workload by busting myths which Ms Hewitt said increased work unnecessarily. Areas in which she said these myths were creating additional work included marking and lesson planning. She mentioned previous advice that Ofsted was not there to assess teaching: “inspectors won’t expect to see teaching plans unless it’s the policy of the school to have one”.  The official Ofsted YouTube channel has a series of helpful clips called #OfstedMyths.

She also spoke passionately about her concerns that schools are investing their limited funds in commissioning ‘Mocksteds’, which she considers a waste of resources because, in many cases, they accentuate myths and cause unnecessary stress for teachers. Ms Hewitt said: “All they need is the Ofsted Inspection Handbook and the Safeguarding Guidance – if it’s not in the handbook or the guidance, it’s a myth”.

The Senior HMI announced that from autumn term, they will be piloting having Ofsted inspectors lead inspections, rather than HMIs in the lead role.

As during previous Ofsted termly briefings, issues were raised regarding schools that do not have their statutory documents on their website or they haven’t kept them up to date.

The theme for this term’s Ofsted was Special Educational Needs and Disabilities and HMI Gina White, Ofsted’s Regional Representative for SEND, spoke at the event. She stressed that schools needed to be aware of the Children and Families Act 2014 and the Special Educational Needs and Disabilities Code of Practice 0-25. Ms White emphasised the role of mainstream schools in supporting children with SEND, adding that 8-9% of the population has SEND and the majority of children with SEND are now taught in mainstream schools. One particular issue that she raised was that data was starting to show a “gap opening up” in the performance of children with an education health plan, compared with those receiving SEND specific education. The HMI also reiterated that governors are tasked with ensuring SEND provision is up to standards in schools.

The SCHOOLS NorthEast Summer Term Ofsted Briefings took place on Wednesday 6 July and Thursday 7 July in Tees Valley, County Durham and Northumberland. The next set of briefings will be announced in due course, along with their specific theme.

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