Categorie archieven: School Inspections

Ofsted confirms the biggest changes to education inspection for more than 2 decades

From September, Ofsted will inspect good schools and further education and skills providers once every 3 years under a new short inspection model. Inspectors will start from a premise that the school or provider is still good and focus on ensuring that those standards are being maintained. They will check that leaders have identified key areas of concern and that they have the capacity to address them.

Short Inspections

These short inspections will typically last one day and be led by one or two of Her Majesty’s Inspectors (HMI), with bigger teams for further education colleges. Where HMI feel more evidence is necessary to confirm the judgement, or to establish whether the school or provider may have improved or declined, the visit will be converted to a full inspection and continue, most commonly, for an additional day.

Describing the nature of the new short inspections, Ofsted’s chief said:

Make no mistake, this is a very different inspection model to what has gone before. The starting assumption of Her Majesty’s Inspectors will be that the school or college is good. This should engender an atmosphere in which honest, challenging, professional dialogue can take place. Short inspections will reduce the burden of inspection without losing the rigour which parents and the public rightly expect of Ofsted.”

Rewarding exceptional leadership

Ofsted also announced plans to recognise ‘exceptional leaders’; outlining how, from September, when inspectors identify an early years leader, headteacher or college principal who has played a key role in turning around other institutions, Ofsted will send a letter to them acknowledging their leadership as exceptional. A copy of this letter will go to the Secretary of State and Ofsted’s Annual Report will also feature those leaders who have been recognised in this way.

As well as short inspections for good schools and further education and skills providers, September will see a number of other changes. A common framework for inspection is being introduced encompassing registered early years settings, maintained schools, academies, non-association independent schools and further education and skills providers, so that common judgements and terminology can be used across all these sectors. A young person, parent or employer should be able to pick up any of Ofsted’s inspection reports and be able to understand them quickly because the format and judgements are the same.

Complaints about inspections

Ofsted also announced his intention to open up a complaints process to greater accountability. Each Ofsted region will set up a ‘scrutiny committee’ made up of HMI and leading headteachers, early years and college leaders not involved in carrying out inspections for Ofsted. They will assess and rule on the internal reviews of complaints about inspection.

The new school year will bring significant changes to the way Ofsted contracts with, trains and manages inspectors for schools and further education and skills providers. From September, Ofsted Inspectors, directly contracted by the inspectorate, will undertake inspections. Seven out of 10 of these inspectors will be serving practitioners from good and outstanding schools and colleges. All of their training, quality assurance and performance management will be directly overseen by HMI.

Ofsted reforms education inspection

Ofsted has today confirmed some of the most significant changes to the inspection of education in its history, following an extensive programme of public consultation.

Setting out the reforms, Ofsted’s National Director of Schools, Sean Harford, said that frequent but shorter inspections of good schools and further education and skills providers, introducing a common inspection framework to standardise the approach to all education inspections, and inspecting all non-association independent schools in the next three years will contribute to driving up educational standards across the country.

Commenting on the publication of ‘Better inspection for all’, a report on the responses to the consultation, Sean said:

“In recent years, we have seen encouraging improvements in schools and colleges across the country. Ofsted has played a critical role in challenging the education system to do better and it is clear that many leaders and teachers have responded to that challenge very positively. The changes we are confirming today are designed to ensure that standards continue to improve.“

Frequent but shorter inspections

Almost 70% of respondents supported Ofsted’s first key proposal for frequent, but shorter, inspections of good maintained schools and academies, with over 60% supporting the proposal for further and education and skills providers. As a result, from September Ofsted will inspect good schools and further education and skills providers approximately once every three years, meaning that signs of decline can be spotted early and the necessary action taken. The focus of these inspections will be on ensuring that good standards are being maintained, that leaders have identified key areas of concern and that they have the capacity to address them. Frequent but shorter inspections will also mean that parents and employers can be kept much better informed.

Common approach in order to compare schools

The second change, supported by nearly 80% of respondents, will see a common approach taken to all education inspections from September 2015. This will ensure even greater consistency in inspections and will make it much easier for parents, pupils, learners and employers to compare different providers and make more informed choices.

The Common Inspection Framework will ensure a consistent approach to Ofsted inspections. It will focus on keeping young people safe, the breadth of the curriculum in schools, the relevance of courses and training in further education and skills, and the quality of early learning.

Alongside the changes to inspection, Ofsted is making significant changes to the way it contracts with, trains and manages inspectors. Ofsted is determined to recruit and retain inspectors of the highest calibre to carry out inspections using the new framework. They have tightened up their selection criteria and quality assurance procedures. All contracted Ofsted Inspectors will have to go through a stringent assessment process and assessed training, with clear performance measures in place.

Some proposals were re-considered

In some cases, proposals were re-considered in light of the feedback. For example, a number of respondents questioned the feasibility of Ofsted establishing how leaders were influencing improvements beyond their own institutions, as part of its leadership and management judgement. As a result, Ofsted will not be taking this aspect of the leadership and management judgement forward.

Better inspection for all: consultation response


Ofsted admits reliability problems

Ofsted has not done enough to ensure school inspections are reliable, one of Ofsted’s directors admits.  

Ofsted is the Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills. They inspect and regulate services that care for children and young people, and services providing education and skills for learners of all ages. The Office carries out regular inspections of each school in England, resulting in a published evaluation of the effectiveness of the school.

Sean Harford, Ofsted’s national director for schools, responds to a critical blog from head teacher Tom Sherrington of Highbury Grove School in north London. Some inspectors use data as a “safety net” instead of making a professional judgement, Harford wrote. Tom Sherrington had complained of “enormous flaws and absence of proper validity trials” in the current inspection system.

In the blog, Sherrington  had rejected the idea that schools “can be judged in a meaningful way via inspections”. “By ‘judged’ I am not talking about an experienced visitor giving some insightful developmental feedback based on an analysis of the available data and their observations; no doubt there are some people out there who can do this well enough. “I am talking about the process of distilling this mass of qualitative and quantitative information into a simple set of final grades, with one overall Judgement Grade”.

In his response, Harford admitted Ofsted does not currently ensure “directly that different inspectors in the school on the same day would give the same judgement”. He also agreed “some inspectors and some schools focus too much on a narrow range of data”. He said Ofsted trained its inspectors to use data as a “signpost”, rather than making it a “pre-determined destination”. “But the weakest ones have been guilty of using the published data as a safety net for not making fully-rounded, professional judgements.”

He said inspectors should draw on information from the school itself, including pupils’ work over time, progress across year groups and classes, improvements to teaching, and pupils’ attitudes to learning.

Harford said Ofsted’s pilots for its new short inspections would include reliability testing. “If reliability is a problem, we will review the issues to see what we need to do to make the inspections reliable.” Last month Ofsted closed its consultation on a new inspection framework which will introduce shorter inspections for all schools rated as good in England.

School leaders have described Harford’s comments as a definite shift in tone. Sherrington told the Times Educational Supplement he was amazed by the response to his blog, arguing that inspectors “can’t just continue to assert authority – they have to demonstrate reliability”.