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’.