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Changes to the way Ofsted inspects and reports

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: inspection, parents

Sean Harford

From September 2019, Ofsted will inspect using a new framework. The education inspection framework sets out how we will inspect state schools, further education and skills providers, non-association independent schools and registered early years settings in England.

What’s changing about inspection?

Inspections will focus on the real substance of education: the curriculum. Inspectors will spend less time looking at test data, and more time looking at what is taught and how it is taught. They will consider how a nursery, school, college or other education provider has achieved their results.

We want to make sure that good results come from teaching a broad, rich curriculum. We want to reflect real learning, not just intensive preparation for a test or to move up to the next ‘stage’. Ofsted grades will reflect the areas that matter most to parents: quality of education, behaviour and attitudes, personal development, and leadership and management.

What does this mean for parents?

In schools, inspectors will look at how a school contributes to pupils’ broader development, including development of their character, good citizenship skills and resilience. Inspectors will also look at how schools manage behaviour, and tackle low-level disruption and bullying, so that parents can be assured that the school is one in which pupils are safe and able to learn.

We will check that school leaders are putting children’s interests ahead of their own. This includes checking that they do not allow off-rolling – this process removes pupils from a school’s roll without a formal, permanent exclusion when it is not in the child’s best interests.

We want to provide parents with clear and helpful information. This includes reassurance about the education children are receiving now, as well as informing choices about children’s future education.

Reports are changing, too

Parents tell us that they particularly like our early years reports, because they are short and clear. They still will be! But as well as giving an independent view of how a nursery or childminder will care for your child, they’re going to give a real flavour of what it’s like for the child at nursery, with a childminder or in other day care.

Here’s what an inspector found at a recent pilot inspection at a nursery:

‘Adults plan a broad and exciting range of activities based on children’s interests. They think carefully about how they can build on what children already know. For example, they help pre-school children find out facts about the different countries taking part in the European football competition, while making links with the languages that children speak at home. Adults listen carefully to children and are skilful at introducing new vocabulary. However, on occasion, adults do not leave enough time for younger children to think and respond to a question before moving onto the next.’

As you can see, we give parents examples of what we saw that worked well, and also what the nursery staff need to think more about.

Inspection reports will soon be shorter and clearer

Our reports on education will also be shorter and clearer. They will tell parents what it’s like to be a child or young person at the school – what is being done well and what could be done better. We’ve been testing the reports with different groups of parents and have taken on board what they prefer. We have also taken into account what will make our reports more accessible to a wide range of people, including employers and apprentices.

Our reports are a valuable source of information about further education and skills, whether that be for employers who want to know the strengths and weaknesses of a training centre, or a young person and their parents who are thinking about next steps in education or training. We think that the new reports make this easier. They will be briefer, clearer, and better focused on the users of those being inspected.

We’re not lowering our expectations

The current grading system will be kept (outstanding; good; requires improvement; and inadequate) so that you can make well informed decisions about your child’s education.

Exam results are important, of course, and we are not lowering expectations. We understand all the other things that matter to parents – like creating a warm, safe environment for learning and encouraging children’s wider development. Here’s a quote from a draft pilot inspection report:

‘In the Nursery and Reception classes the youngest children work and play happily. They are busy in all they do; working in the ‘car mechanics’ garage, being a ‘bat’ hanging upside down on the outdoor trapeze, sorting and threading buttons or moving the counters after rolling the dice. Staff help children to be independent and quickly follow the class rules; they share, take turns, speak politely and listen to each other. The children love story time. They were engrossed as the teacher read to them and eager to take her book home to share as a ‘special treat’. In Reception, all children learn to read from the very beginning. Any child struggling to remember their sounds or to write their letters is helped individually by staff who make practising them fun, so no child is left behind. Children are set up extremely well for their years ahead’.

Have a look at the new framework and comment here to let us know what you think or follow us on Twitter @Ofstednews.

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  1. Comment by Richard Petty posted on

    How can you encompass an entire multi faceted school with one grade ?

    If you judge a school as inadequate but it has good or outstanding aspects how is that fair ?

  2. Comment by JOHN UBSDELL posted on

    Great concerns. The opening statement implies that all previous inspection frameworks 'Inspections will focus on the real substance of education: the curriculum. Inspectors will spend less time looking at test data, and more time looking at what is taught and how it is taught' did not consider such issues! The use of jargon which when composing a report or EF or Summary EF such use would be circled by the Lead or HMI and returned. e.g. Hazing, Deep Dive, Off rolling, Gaming........ use of acronyms such as Jusco, Pacey, used but not defined! Data drop can only be two or three times a year, the advice here and remember Ofsted can not give advice, should be not the frequency but rationale for such drops so in October you could look at Y5 EAL, SENd, LAC performance and then November whole of Year 5, good practice but it could read 'Ofsted will look at the rationale for the frequecy of data drops and how effectively they are used.' You need add no more. Ofsted statement implies not good to do more than 2 or 3! Also explain page 49- Q of Ed Outstanding criteria second bullet ' The quality of education is exceptional' Question here how is 'exceptional' defined? It is ambiguous and left to individual teams to define! Under implementation we have sect; 181 first bullet 'teachers have expert knowledge of the subjects they teach.' yet under Good criteria Implementation ' Teachers have good knowledge of the subjects and courses they teach' which is it 'expert' or 'good' .Exclusions patterns investigated but nothing on 'risk assessment' some children have been excluded , sent home, where the school is the safest place for them not home and I have on an inspection discovered police intervention where a child Y8 sent home and left unsupervised yet known to the police a safeguarding issue. The school did not carry out a risk assessment! A little like Ofsted's response to Peer on Peer abuse and its inactivity during an inspection and response nationally!!! I have reports from 2018 so badly written yet published and when a comment is raised, I receive from Ofsted ' the report has been published we can not investigate' or' we ensure report standards are upheld and each report has a reader to ensure good standards of writing and accuracy.' I have more concerns but it feels that now the teams are 90% membership from schools, we have a strap line which reads from Ofsted ' we feel your pain!' instead of an unambiguous, strategic framework which is clear and transparent! Such are times we are living in.