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Ofsted Parent View – looking more closely

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Over the past couple of years, we’ve been speaking to people across the world of education and holding a consultation on the new education inspection framework. We analysed all 15,000 consultation responses and made some changes in response to feedback. From September 2019, the new framework will underpin how we inspect education.

In September we will also update Ofsted Parent View, the online survey which parents can complete during and outside of inspection. The questions need to reflect what we look at on inspection, and what parents want to tell us. That’s why we’ve updated the questions to fit the new framework. Parents’ views are important in helping inspectors get a rounded view of the school. This includes what parents value about the school along with any areas of concern.

Over the last few months, we’ve tested new questions with parents, schools and inspectors. We based the new set of questions on what parents want to know and can answer, what inspectors want to know and what schools find useful. Getting this balance right is important.

New questions to support a new focus

The new framework has a new focus. Inspections will look at what pupils learn in a ‘quality of education’ judgement. The curriculum – what pupils learn – must be broad and rich, to offer children real learning rather than practice in passing tests.

We have also added a statement for parents of children with special education needs and/or disabilities (SEND) to agree or disagree with. This reflects the new framework and also responds to calls from parents for a question in this area.

New statements include the following:

  • There is a good range of subjects available to my child at this school
  • My child can take part in clubs and activities at this school
  • The school supports my child’s wider personal development
  • My child has SEND, and the school gives them the support they need to succeed.

Whether their children are safe and happy is the main concern of every parent. Questions on these topics remain, as does, ‘Would you recommend this school to another parent?’

On other questions and statements, we’ve made improvements so that they are more readable and simpler to answer.

For example, the current statement on bullying is ‘This school deals effectively with bullying’. Many parents answered ‘don’t know’ either because they felt they couldn’t answer outside their own experience, or because their child had not been bullied. The statement on bullying now reads: ‘My child has been bullied and the school dealt with the bullying quickly and effectively’ – with a new answer option: ‘My child has not been bullied’.

What’s happening and when

You can find all the new questions and more information in our updated toolkit for schools. The new questions will be available for parents to answer from September. They will not change during the academic year 2019/20.

Though some questions remain the same, results pre-September 2019 will not be directly comparable with results in the academic year 2019/20.

School results from previous years will still be available on the site, the processes for seeking parent views during inspection remain the same, and schools don’t need to take any action.

More parents fill in the survey during an inspection than outside inspection. For inspections happening in the academic year 2019/20, inspectors will consider previous Ofsted Parent View results as well as post-September 2019.

Looking forward

 Ofsted Parent View is an old site. It’s served our inspection needs reasonably well, but we’re now in the early stages of a project to replace it with a new service that will better meet the needs of parents, inspectors and schools.

We’re exploring ways to make it easier and quicker for parents to give their views during inspections. We’re continuing to look at the questions we ask and how we ask them. We’re also talking to schools about how we could align with their own processes to seek feedback from parents.

We’ll be working closely with schools and parents over the coming year to explore and test our ideas for a new service and will provide updates on this blog and on our social media channels.

In another development, from September 2019, the Learner View and Employer View surveys used on further education and skills inspections will be moving to a new platform called SmartSurvey. We have reviewed the questions in both surveys to make them more relevant to learners, employers and inspectors as well to ensure that they align with the EIF.


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  1. Comment by Sandy Cameron posted on

    Two aspects of these questions that might present problems of interpretation either for parents or schools.

    "a good range of subjects" presupposes an approach to teaching that makes subjects easily indentified by parents. This might be tricky if your child is in a Reception or Nursery class, or in a school that plans and delivers without explicitly visible subject boundaries.

    "My child has SEND" - many parents claim their child has SEND and that school is failing to meet needs. Let's hope that inspectors remember these questions are just opinions, not facts.

  2. Comment by Cait Mellow posted on

    Inspectors are aware that these are parents’ opinions and reflect their own and their child’s experience of the school.

  3. Comment by Sandy Cameron posted on

    Well, yes and no. Obviously, inspectors will use triangulation to see whether parents' collective views of a school's SEND provision are borne out by other evidence. But we both use "inspectors" in the sense that "the Ofsted framework expects that all inspectors will..." The reality on the ground is that sometimes, individual inspectors fall short of the framework's expectations, and inviting parents to make what they believe are statements of fact ("my child has been bullied"; "my child has SEND") seems to me to introduce an unnecessary additional element of unreliability into the evidence. I don't, for example, see that the bullying question needs changing just because there is often a high percentage of 'don't knows'.

  4. Comment by Cait Mellow posted on

    We carried out extensive research with parents on these questions. People answer 'don't know' when they mean 'my child has not been in this situation', and they told us that they wanted to clarify what they meant in the answer they gave.

  5. Comment by Sandy Cameron posted on

    Thanks for your answers Cait.

  6. Comment by @TeacherToolkit posted on

    Any questions on whole-school behaviour still stand out like a sore thumb! It is good to see questions on homework and progress removed from the old questionnaire. On behaviour, asking parents for their opinions on this matter is concerning.

    Instead of: "The school makes sure its pupils are well behaved?" We should ask ‘Does the school makes sure MY child is well-behaved?’

    This question would lead our parents to provide more meaningful responses about their child – without assumptions being made by parents, about what they think may or may not know about what is happening with other children’s behaviour, largely out of a parent’s control or knowledge.

    This would also place some form of responsibility back on the family as well as the school. Perhaps an additional question could be: Do you (regularly) support your child’s behaviour at home so that they are well-behaved at school? Obviously, we do not want to abdicate schools of their duties, but we shouldn't ask parents questions which will garner misleading generalisations about things they would not necessarily know...

    It would be worthwhile Ofsted revisiting this question one more time before the Education Inspection Framework is launched in September 2019.