By Martin Hodge, Professional Officer (Policy & Research)
The headlines of Ofsted’s response:
Focus on pupil outcomes
It’s all about progress. From the first conversation held between the lead inspector and the headteacher, schools will need to explain their specific context and challenges, identifying current strengths and weakness relating to:
- the curriculum;
- how teaching supports learning;
- the standards pupils achieve; and
- behaviour and attitudes of pupils.
It’s no longer about data, but classroom teachers and school leaders must ensure they have the necessary data to prove that their curriculum, teaching and interventions achieve the stated outcomes for their pupils.
Classroom assessment data will not be considered by inspectors
Although Ofsted is quite clear that “inspectors will not use schools’ internal assessment data as evidence”, that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t count. The guidance goes on to say that inspectors will be interested in the conclusions drawn from any internal assessment and this will be critical evidence if it supports pupil development, curriculum implementation or proves the worth of interventions. It will be up to school leaders to make the case to inspectors and for classroom teachers to ensure that there is evidence that pupils are progressing “towards defined endpoints”.
School data demands will be assessed
So, data is still king, but Ofsted is trying to undo the sins of the past by actively limiting the number of data collections that schools can demand of their staff. The Making Data Work document recommends that there is no need for more than two or three data collection points per year – which should reduce the administrative burden on classroom staff.
What will be more important is how schools use this data to improve pupil progress and Ofsted will actively investigate schools that continue to demand more data without it being put to justifiable purposes.
On-site preparation dropped
Ofsted had proposed having the lead inspector arrive in the afternoon, ahead of the formal inspection to do their preparation on-site, but this has now been dropped from the published framework.
Almost three quarters of respondents opposed this proposal, stating that this could constitute an almost no-notice inspection given that Ofsted could arrive less than three hours after the telephone notification.
Grace period to revise curriculum
A major component of the Education Inspection Framework is the new “quality of education” judgement. Ofsted have made clear that this will be implemented as planned. However, the part of the framework which looks at the “intent” of the curriculum will be phased in, giving schools time to review their curriculum.
Ofsted has said that as long as school leaders can demonstrate to inspectors that they have a plan for updating and refining the curriculum and are taking genuine action to do so, the judgement “will not be negatively affected”.
Small schools may still receive shorter inspections
Along with other unions, Voice opposed the proposition to increase “short inspections” from one to two days. There was a real concern that plans to increase the length of time inspectors spend in ‘good’ schools would disproportionately impact on small schools, many of which are primary schools. Therefore, whilst we are disappointed that Ofsted has chosen to go ahead regardless, we are thankful that the smallest ‘good’ schools – those with 150 or fewer pupils – will continue to receive one-day inspections.
Criteria will look at:
“whether or not providers tolerate bullying, harassment, violence, derogatory language and discriminatory behaviour and, crucially, how swiftly and effectively they take action if these issues occur”.
This is a subtle but significant change from the original proposals that suggested Ofsted would be looking for a complete absence of bullying, which might have led schools to hide or misreport such behaviour in order to play down their figures.
We are encouraged that staff in the early years are now free to manage children appropriately, rather than being required to be “not reactive when children display a tantrum”.
The explicit note that EYFS is the curriculum for all children up to the age of five is also welcome.
Off-rolling and alternative provision
Ofsted has also increased its commitment to investigate where there appear to be large numbers of transient and mobile pupils, as this could suggest issues including high levels of exclusion, off-rolling and inappropriate use of alternative provisions.
We still have concerns at the lack of clarity around the inspection of ‘cultural capital’. It is unclear what it actually means, therefore it will be impossible for schools to adequately prepare before the first inspections under this new framework commence in September 2019.
The final drafts of the following documents were published by Ofsted alongside its response report:
- Education Inspection Framework
- Early years inspection handbook
- Maintained schools and academies section 5 inspection handbook
- Maintained schools and academies section 8 inspection handbook
- Non-association independent schools inspection handbook
- Further education and skills inspection handbook
- Equality, diversity and inclusion statement