The new academic year sees the awaited change to the Ofsted schedule. This change aligns with its new ‘image’ where Ofsted has marketed itself to be a force for improvement. It has long been discussed about schools ‘playing the game’ and Ofsted not being ‘fit for purpose’. Under the direction of Amanda Spielman, Ofsted is attempting to create an inspection framework that will improve the quality of education and the outcomes of our learners.
Changes to the timing and length of inspections means an inspection can take place at any point from five days after the first day of term. This change will remove the unfairness of having an inspection in the first couple of days of a term when the learners are settling down to routines. The ‘short Section 8 inspection’ is to be lengthened to 2 days, for schools with over 150 on roll, to ensure ‘good’ schools are really ‘good’ and a judgement is not made too quickly due to a lack of detail.
Inspections will include the key messages of reducing teacher workload, enhancing student character/resilience and implementing a broad, well-balanced, knowledge-rich curriculum. Here at SchooliP we are pleased to see an emphasis on enhancing professional development and reducing teacher workloads. This nurturing approach has the potential to deliver a more sustainable approach to recap long-term improvement.
Data will be used as a starting point, but now there is more emphasis on ‘quality’ and the mastering of education. Ofsted understand the purpose and usefulness of internal pupil data, but it won’t have an expectation that this information is shared. They want to see what is happening in ‘classrooms’ rather than looking through spreadsheets of data. The grade for quality will be made up of three subcategories: Intent, Implementation and Impact.
Ofsted are looking at the curriculum in more depth and ensuring that it is stimulating and relevant. A curriculum not just for tests and exams, but for later life, by mastering, embedding and linking content. A successful curriculum is implemented over time, so inspectors will favourably view a vision and long term plan with appropriate coverage, content, structure and sequencing.
The comprehensive nature of SchooliP means that your staff will enjoy a well-structured approach to accessing relevant professional development. This will ensure that staff are well-equipped to deliver a successful curriculum. Inspectors will be looking at how a range of staff, not just teachers, do their job and how leaders support them, particularly regarding subject knowledge, delivery, assessment, feedback and catering for individual needs. A judgement will be made based on discussions, observations, work scrutiny, schemes of work and long-term planning.
We welcome the greater freedom that is apparent within the new framework. The emphasis isn’t solely on what we’d class as academic success and there is a recognition that there are more ways of defining success, rather than solely statistical data. By not advocating a particular approach to teaching, we hope that teachers will feel empowered to deliver content in their own inimitable styles.
This refers to the learners’ character and attitude towards their learning. This judgement will also look for evidence of any bullying/discrimination and how it is successfully dealt with by the school. Inspectors will be collecting information from a range of sources including discussions with students and staff, surveys, observations and policies. They will review the effectiveness of approaches to minimise or eliminate, discrimination and exclusions.
This judgement refers to preparing students for later life, academically, morally, socially and healthy. It includes developing character (resilience, confidence and independence) and opportunity to discover their interests and talents. There is also reference to demonstrating mutual respect and tolerance to those with different faiths and beliefs, and understanding British values.
Leaders have a responsibility to safeguard learners by providing high-quality pastoral support. Inspectors will look at the range, quality and take-up of extra-curricular activities, the promotion of British values, the development of young persons’ character and how equality and diversity are promoted and celebrated.
This judgement is made on student success, ambition, inclusion, community engagement, safeguarding and staff development. There is a focus on quality of training rather than just performance management. Leaders will need to be aware of the main pressures that affect staff and take account of them.
SchooliP will continue to monitor workloads and provide rich data to senior leaders informing them of individual and collective training needs. This constructive approach will help to manage staff and ensure that any workload issues are dealt with in an appropriate and punctual manner.
We welcome the changes to the inspection framework. At this moment in time, it is hard to comment on effectiveness as it has yet to be implemented. The overall approach is rigorous and more realistic to the challenges that are faced in schools on a daily basis.
Ofsted’s desire to be a force for improvement is positive news. On a daily basis, teachers are working exceptionally hard to prepare students for the next phase in their lives. We are hopeful that a more pragmatic approach to inspection will lead to more effective progress.
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