As we head towards autumn I hope you have all managed to get some rest and relaxation over the summer and are feeling refreshed for the coming year. It’s now two years since I took over as Ofsted’s National Director for Education. Much has changed in the meantime. In the last year alone we have welcomed a new chief inspector on board and with that a fresh perspective.
This September marks the 25th anniversary of the formation of Ofsted. At that point, in 1992, the first chief inspector, Stewart Sutherland, talked about Ofsted being a vehicle for improvement. Our current HMCI, Amanda Spielman, carries on that baton and that is the driving force of Ofsted today.
I had the pleasure of attending the Festival of Education at Wellington College with Amanda over the summer. She talked about the importance of Ofsted's role and its potential to effect change. Amanda discussed her plans to expand the research functions within Ofsted and spoke of reviewing how we use the evidence we collect.
She also spoke about our survey of the curriculum of early years, schools and colleges, which is the main research project of her first year. The first set of findings are due to be published very soon. This was also the focus of my session at the festival.
Questions on curriculum
The curriculum survey has been warmly welcomed by senior leaders and educational professionals. Once we have the initial evidence we will look at whether we need to consider curriculum more during inspection; this will feed into the new inspection framework we are developing for September 2019.
Our initial survey of hundreds of schools, looked at many questions including:
- How clear has the government been about the objectives of the curriculum?
- Has the school made the objectives of the curriculum clear?
- Is the school’s approach aligned with national policy objectives?
- What are teachers’ objectives when they teach a subject?
- Are teachers’ objectives in line with the schools?
- Will the teaching deliver the objectives for that subject?
I had the opportunity to develop the curriculum conversation further at Bryanston School, Dorset in early June. I gave a talk at the ‘Contributing to World Class’ event about how the curriculum is being implemented. This covered the impact it has on pupils’ knowledge and understanding. I lived in Dorset during my secondary school years and it was good to visit this part of the country once more.
In mid-August our consultation on short inspections closed. We had a lot of very helpful responses.
While some commentators, including Stephen Rollett of ASCL have been supportive of the proposed new approach, we have had a more mixed response from others. Be assured that we will listen to what you have said and find a solution to meet most needs. We will report formally on the consultation responses by mid-September.
As the new academic year unfolds we will be publishing our new strategic plan. Amanda, Luke Tryl (our Director, Corporate Strategy) and I will be on the road at various conferences and events to discuss what it will mean for Ofsted’s development.
Following a Twitter absence, due to leave, I’m now back to answering your queries and debating issues. Questions still include the perennial ones around myths, which I am determined to banish. Please feel free to ask away!
I would also urge readers to take a look at the Public Appointments website where the Ofsted Board vacancies are now live.