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Ofsted: latest updates
Stay up to date with all things Ofsted, including changes to the inspection handbooks and any murmurings about the new framework.
- June 19: Labour Party considering changes to inspection system
- June 19: HMCI calls to lift exemption of outstanding schools
- June 19: Role of governance under the new Ofsted framework
- May 19: New inspection framework for 2019 published
- Mar 19: 85% of schools inspected between 1 April and 31 December 2018 graded 'good' or 'outstanding', findings from pilot inspections
- Mar 19: Ofsted may rethink plans for on-site inspection preparation, plans to extend transition period
- Feb 19: Ofsted publishes first MAT summary evaluation, head of NAHT questions new Ofsted framework
- Jan 19: Ofsted releases draft handbooks and opens 12-week consultation
- Dec 18: HMCI's annual report, DfE tells Ofsted to inspect more ‘outstanding’ schools
- Nov 18: DfE considers 'outstanding' exemption, more on curriculum research
- Oct 18: new judgement areas focus on curriculum, new Ofsted website
- Sep 18: MPs and headteachers criticise Ofsted
- Aug 18: Ofsted teacher survey results
- Jul 18: handbook changes, new approach for MAT inspection
- Jun 18: framework development focal points revealed
- May 18: NAO report and lesson observation research findings
- Apr 18: inspection handbook changes
Don't miss out
We update this article whenever we hear something new. Click 'save for later' at the top of this article and we'll let you know when it's been updated.
What the 2019 inspection framework means for you
Find out what the new framework will mean for your school here.
June 19: Labour Party considering changes to inspection system
Tes has reported that Labour's policy chiefs have been in talks over how to change the current inspection system. They have concerns over reliability, impact on workload and teacher retention.
Union pressure has prompted Labour to look at the issue of Ofsted in detail. Tes says that Labour are considering inspection options as part of their National Policy Forum.
June 19: HMCI calls to lift exemption of outstanding schools
Ofsted have substantially increased the number of outstanding schools (who are exempt from routine inspections) they inspected this year.
Between 1 September 2018 and 31 March 2019, Ofsted inspected 8% (305) of all exempt schools. They found:
- Only 49 remained outstanding (16%)
- 166 were judged to be ‘good’ (54%)
- 76 were found to require improvement (25%)
- 14 were rated inadequate (5%)
- More primary schools than secondary schools lost their outstanding grade
HMCI Amanda Spielman, said the results should ‘set alarm bells ringing’ and that ‘the exemption should be lifted and Ofsted resourced to routinely inspect these schools.’
June 19: Role of governance under the new Ofsted framework
In a speech to the National Governors Association, HMCI Amanda Spielman spoke about the role of governors under the new Ofsted framework.
She advised how governors can hold the school to account for the quality and shape of the curriculum, and how governors can help ensure that all pupils (including those with SEND or from disadvantaged backgrounds) receive the benefits of the school's full curriculum offer.
She also spoke about how inspectors will take delegated responsibilities within MATs into account when inspecting governance.
May 19: New inspection framework for 2019 published
Ofsted has published its new inspection framework and handbooks, which they'll use from September 2019.
It published these alongside the outcome of its consultation on changes to inspection.
Mar 19: 85% of schools inspected between 1 April and 31 December 2018 graded 'good' or 'outstanding', findings from pilot inspections
Data released by Ofsted also shows that the percentage of schools who improve in the inspection following a 'requires improvement' judgement has fallen. This means a school rated as 'requires improvement' is less likely to get a 'good' or 'outstanding' judgement at its next inspection compared to previous years.
Information obtained by Schools Week also shows that none of the 'oustanding' schools inspected by Ofsted between 9 January and 1 February retained their 'outstanding' rating.
Osted publishes findings from new framework pilot inspections
On their blog, Ofsted discusses responses to on-site inspection preparation, 2-day section 8 inspections, and how inspectors will consider internal performance data.
The blog points out that 2-day section 8 inspections may be overkill for very small primary schools, and that they're considering how to address this.
Off-rolling schools likely to be judged inadequate under new inspection framework
Leadership and management in schools that remove pupils from the roll to improve exam results ('off-rolling') is likely to be judged 'inadequate', Ofsted told the TES. According to the draft inspection handbook for September 2019, schools whose leadership and management is judged to be 'inadequate' is likely to be judged 'inadequate' overall.
Schools not responsible for knife crime, Ofsted says
Amanda Spielman, head of Ofsted, says that school's can't be held responsible for dealing with knife crime in the absence of properly funded local services.
Read more about this on the BBC.
Ofsted to offer secondments to middle leaders
Ofsted told the Association of School and College Leaders' annual conference that they plan to offer middle leaders 1-year secondments as full-time inspectors, Schools Week reports.
Ofsted says this will allow school leaders to access training and development, and equip them with knowledge of the wide range of good practice taking place in schools around the country, that they can then take back to their schools to help them improve.
Mar 19: Ofsted may rethink plans for on-site inspection preparation, plans to extend transition period
Ofsted has revealed that responses to proposals for on-site inspection preparation have been overwhelmingly negative.
Matthew Purves, Ofsted's deputy director for schools, told the Tes that he still believes on-site preparation is a good idea. But Ofsted is taking all of the negative feedback into account and considering whether to move forward with the proposal.
Transition period under new inspection framework could be extended
A 12-month transition period will be in place from September 2019 to allow schools time to think about and develop their curriculums in light of the new inspection framework.
Ofsted's head of research, Professor Daniel Muijs, suggested that Ofsted may extend this period based on the outcomes of inspections in the first 12 months.
Read more about this in TES.
Ofsted calls legal challenges to inspection results a 'waste of money'
Some schools have launched legal challenges to have their inspection results amended.
Ofsted's Matthew Purves said such actions were 'foolhardy' and a waste of taxpayer money, according to Schools Week.
Feb 19: Ofsted publishes first MAT summary evaluation, head of NAHT questions new Ofsted framework
Ofsted's first MAT summary evaluation was for Truro and Penwith Academy Trust, which has 25 schools.
Ofsted inspected 6 of the trusts schools, interviewed members of the central team, and spoke to senior leaders in 10 schools about the support they receive from the trust.
They also scrutinised trust documents, such as strategic plans and minutes from meetings.
Read more about it in Schools Week.
Head of NAHT criticises new 'quality of education judgement'
In statements obtained by the TES, the head of the NAHT says the new judgement tries to cover too much ground, and that it could end up promoting just as much fear and perverse incentives as previous frameworks.
Jan 19: Ofsted releases draft handbooks and opens 12-week consultation
Proposed changes include longer section 8 inspections and shorter notice for schools
16 January: Ofsted’s consulting on some new proposals for inspections of academies and maintained schools, including:
- The expected 'quality of education' measure, which places a greater focus on curriculum
- Separating the behaviour and attitudes judgement from the personal development judgement
- No longer using a school's internal performance data as inspection evidence, in a bid to tackle staff workload
- 'On-site preparation time' for all inspections, the day before an inspection
- Increasing the length of section 8 ('short' inspections) from 1 to 2 days
Read our full summary of the changes, as well as Ofsted's draft inspection framework and draft inspection handbook for maintained schools and academies. Respond to the consultation by 5 April 2019 using the online survey.
Dec 18: HMCI's annual report, DfE tells Ofsted to inspect more ‘outstanding’ schools
New videos explain Ofsted's curriculum research
18 December: Ofsted's published videos covering areas including:
- Planning and sequencing a curriculum
- Curriculum flexibility
- Data in the context of the curriculum
There’s also a video of one of the curriculum workshops Ofsted ran in autumn 2018. It’s published the presentation slides from the workshops, which look at:
- What is meant by ‘curriculum’
- How to distinguish curriculum from teaching and assessment
- Why a focus on the curriculum is necessary
You’ll also find examples of questions inspectors might ask about curriculum quality (see slide 21).
Figure out your curriculum's intent, implementation and impact with our prompts, and find out more about what the new framework means for your school.
‘Don’t create undue burdens with new MAT evaluations’, Hinds tells Ofsted
13 December: Ofsted's guidance on its new summary evaluations of multi-academy trusts (MATs) explains:
- These are not inspections, and Ofsted won’t carry them out in every MAT, with most MATs unlikely to undergo them
- There are 2 stages to the process:
- Stage 1: batched inspections, where Ofsted carries out section 5 and section 8 inspections in a number of a MAT's academies, usually over a period of up to 2 terms
- Stage 2: summary evaluation, where over a week inspectors meet MAT leaders and discuss the findings of the individual inspections and overall educational quality across the MAT
- During stage 2 of the process, with the MAT’s agreement, inspectors can carry out on-site visits at the MAT’s academies (including those not inspected in stage 1)
Education secretary Damian Hinds acknowledged the new approach in a letter to HMCI Amanda Spielman, and urged her to ensure the visits in stage 2 of the process “do not create undue burdens on the schools or MAT”.
He’s called for consistent use of the term ‘MAT summary evaluation’ to describe this process, and wants to avoid these evaluations being described as ‘MAT inspections’.
'150 minutes’ notice' for inspections under new framework?
12 December: Tes is reporting that inspectors could give just over 2 hours warning before arriving the same day under the new framework. Inspectors would arrive at the school to prepare and discuss plans with leaders, before beginning a formal inspection the next day.
Ofsted itself says it has "no plans to reduce the formal notice period", but Tes suggests that this proposal wouldn't be an adjustment to the notice period, as the actual inspection wouldn't begin until the next day.
Secondary curricula score higher than primary in Ofsted study
11 December: Ofsted’s published the findings of phase 3 of its curriculum research:
- Schools can produce equally strong curricula regardless of the amount of deprivation in their communities, suggesting that Ofsted’s proposed new approach could be fairer to schools in disadvantaged areas
- Only 8 out of 33 primary schools sampled scored highly for their curriculum overall, compared with 16 out of 29 secondary schools
- The quality of curriculum in foundation subjects in primary schools was rated poorly compared to that in core subjects
In her commentary, Amanda Spielman reiterated that Ofsted would try to keep the overall proportion of schools achieving each grade "roughly the same" between the old framework and new, and emphasised that Ofsted will better recognise schools in challenging circumstances.
Parent View to be replaced
10 December: Ofsted’s working on a project to replace Parent View with a new service, HMCI Amanda Spielman has revealed in a letter to the Public Accounts Committee.
She said the new system is being designed to “increase the volume, quality and diversity of views” it gathers from parents.
She also said:
- Ofsted’s been conducting focus groups with parents to find out how they’d like to share their views
- Ofsted will be launching “new style reports” alongside its new framework, with the design informed by parent feedback to make sure they’re accessible and give parents the information they need
- She is confident that Ofsted “will be able to allocate more inspector time to on site activities” in short inspections under the new inspection framework
‘Stuck’ schools highlighted in HMCI’s annual report
4 December: HMCI Amanda Spielman’s annual report for 2017/18 sets out “areas most of concern” including:
- ‘Stuck’ schools which “haven’t improved enough over many years” – the report says around 490 schools have been judged ‘requires improvement’ or ‘inadequate’ in every inspection since 2005
- The ‘outstanding’ school exemption from inspection – HMCI says that the exemption needs to be lifted and Ofsted given the resource to inspect ‘outstanding’ schools, so that the ‘outstanding’ grade can “maintain its reputation”
- ‘Off-rolling’ – Ofsted’s identified about 300 schools with ‘exceptional levels’ of pupils coming off-roll between years 10 and 11
- Rising exclusions among pupils with SEND
The report also gives some further pointers regarding the content of the proposed new inspection framework, which will:
- Include changes which “strengthen the focus on early reading”
- Allow Ofsted to identify and report on schools which use off-rolling to remove pupils who might achieve less well
‘Inspect 10% of ‘outstanding’ schools’, schools minister tells Ofsted
3 December: Schools minister Nick Gibb has asked Ofsted to review its current risk assessment arrangements and inspect 10% of ‘outstanding’ schools this coming year.
This is in response to the concerns raised by the National Audit Office and the Public Accounts Committee about the impact of the government’s exemption policy.
The exemption of ‘outstanding’ schools from routine inspection remains in place.
Nov 18: DfE considers 'outstanding' exemption, more on curriculum research
DfE "considering" review of inspection exemption for 'outstanding' schools
12 November: The DfE is "considering" the Public Accounts Committee's recommendation for the government to review the inspection exemption for 'outstanding' schools, schools minister Nick Gibb told the House of Commons. It'll be responding formally in December.
Ofsted slideshow sets out new framework approach
8 November: A new series of slides from Ofsted covers points including:
- The importance of curriculum in the new framework, and the findings of Ofsted’s curriculum research (slides 5-13)
- How the current judgement areas map to the new proposed areas, and a more detailed breakdown of coverage for each area (slides 17-18)
- Ofsted’s focus on safeguarding (slide 20)
The slideshow also sets out a time frame (slide 23):
- Spring term 2019: consultation on the “substance and detail” of the framework
- Summer 2019: final framework published
- 1 September 2019: new framework goes live
Oct 18: new judgement areas focus on curriculum, new Ofsted website
Conversations with senior and middle leaders to play a bigger role in inspections
15 October: Inspectors will place greater emphasis on discussions with senior and middle leaders, and "away from teaching itself", under the new framework.
New judgement areas place curriculum centre stage
11 October: The proposed new judgement areas from 2019 will put less weight on test and exam results, and more focus on the curriculum. The judgements are:
- Quality of education (to replace the current 'outcomes for pupils' and 'teaching, learning and assessment' judgements)
- Personal development
- Behaviour and attitudes (the existing 'personal development, welfare and behaviour' judgement is split between 'behaviour and attitudes' and 'personal development')
- Schools' leadership and management
The 'overall effectiveness' judgement and the current 4-point grading system, including the 'outstanding' grade, will remain the same. There'll be a consultation on the proposals in January.
Find out what the new inspection framework means for your school.
New inspection report website goes live
2 October: Ofsted has developed a new website for its inspection reports. It's simpler to access on non-desktop devices and makes it easier to find information.
Ofsted: we've got you covered
Sep 18: MPs and headteachers criticise Ofsted
Headteachers call for Ofsted to ‘pause’ framework launch
12 September: Headteachers have urged Ofsted to “pause” the launch of its new inspection framework, citing concerns about the additional teacher workload it could bring.
MPs call for review of short inspection model
7 September: Ofsted’s short inspections don’t give inspectors enough time to “make a meaningful assessment of a school’s performance”, according to a new report from the public accounts committee.
Aug 18: Ofsted teacher survey results
Over half of teachers think Ofsted inspections increase workload
20 August: Ofsted's teacher survey found:
- 54% of teachers believe an Ofsted inspection creates a huge amount of unnecessary extra work
- 62% of teachers (up from 57% in 2017) feel the final judgement reached by the inspection team about their school was a fair and accurate assessment
- 80% of teachers correctly identified that Ofsted doesn't grade individual lessons, and doesn't require teachers to provide individual lesson plans
Jul 18: handbook changes, new approach for MAT inspection
Minor changes to the current inspection handbook
17 July: The updated handbook includes:
- Inspectors may now look at the content of religious education for voluntary controlled (VC) schools during section 5 inspections (page 74)
- More mythbusting, including clarification that Ofsted will consider performance information, data and analysis in whatever format your school uses (pages 12-16)
- Maintained schools, pupil referral units that have been issued with an academy order, and academies which are re-brokered to new sponsors after termination of their funding agreements, now won't normally receive monitoring inspections, but will need to prepare a statement of action (paragraph 112 and 113)
Read more in the update here.
HMCI discusses promotion of British values
9 July: HMCI Amanda Spielman said that, in her view, teachers are expected to give children a “proper understanding” of British values and what these values have contributed (and continue to contribute) to the strength and success of British society. In a speech to the Policy Exchange think tank, she also rejected the suggestion that Ofsted has “an anti-faith school bias”.
Inspectors must question school leaders about the EBacc
5 July: From September 2018 onwards, inspectors must ask school leaders:
- Whether they're aware of the government's ambition for the majority of pupils to study the EBacc
- What they're planning and doing to reflect the EBacc subjects and ambition in their curriculum
Inspectors won't expect school leaders to have developed or to present separate plans about the EBacc, or to provide additional information outside of their normal curriculum planning.
Ofsted trials new approach for inspections of MAT schools
4 July: Amanda Spielman is committed to expanding Ofsted inspections into MATs. In a speech at the Education Policy Institute conference, she revealed that Ofsted aims to:
- Better understand the way MATs are organised, and make sure Ofsted inspection reflects this
- Improve its reporting on the impact MATs are having
- Make focused reviews of MATs "more intelligent", through improved co-ordination and sharing of evidence between inspection teams
Read more here.
What's the current situation?
The decision on whether Ofsted will carry out full inspections of MATs, and what this will look like, rests with the Department for Education (DfE). The DfE is working with Ofsted to develop new approaches to better scrutinise MATs, according to former education secretary Justine Greening. Currently, academies in a MAT are bundled together for inspection, which in turn acts as sufficient judgement for the MAT as a whole.
There is significant resistance to the idea of Ofsted inspection of MATs, particularly around:
- Whether Ofsted has the necessary expertise and/or experience of how a MAT functions
- Whether its role overlaps with that of regional school commissioners
- Whether there is enough funding
Jun 18: framework development focal points revealed
Ofsted doesn't have a preferred style of careers guidance
12 June: Sean Harford blogged to explain how Ofsted inspects careers guidance and what its expectations are, and revealed that Ofsted is considering how careers provision will fit into Ofsted’s 2019 inspection framework.
Development of new framework informed by 3 key principles
6 June: Amanda Spielman revealed the principles in a speech at the Bryanston Education Summit. These are:
- Making inspections about more than a grade, including focusing on what makes a school distinctive
- Using data appropriately, with greater emphasis on what pupils know, how you know they know it, and what you do when they don't
- Not penalising schools for being unable to address the wider issues of society, such as obesity and knife crime
May 18: NAO report and lesson observation research findings
Ofsted ‘to make reports more parent-friendly’
25 May: Ofsted’s head of strategic development has suggested its reports will become more accessible to parents under its 2019 framework.
Inspection isn't a "one-size-fits-all" process
25 May: Sean Harford, Ofsted’s national director of education, explained that as every school and every school leadership team is different, “no experience of inspection is identical to any other”. He explained that inspectors will also consider a school's context when they make their judgements.
NAO report suggests Ofsted ‘can’t show inspection represents value for money’
24 May: A National Audit Office (NAO) report on Ofsted’s inspection of schools reveals that 296 schools haven’t been inspected for 10 years or more.
HMCI Amanda Spielman responded by emphasising that the NAO's conclusion that Ofsted doesn't provide value for money is "explicitly not the same as demonstrating that we do not provide value".
Ofsted is actively lobbying the DfE to change the current system and include 'outstanding' schools in the normal cycle, according to reports from the BBC, The Guardian and TES. 'Outstanding' schools are currently exempt from routine inspections.
Ofsted lesson observation research findings published
22 May: Ofsted has released a report about its November 2017 seminar on international lesson observations, although it emphasises that further reflection is needed before any changes will make their way into the new lesson inspection model. The report found that:
- All international models have a systematic design, with a range of key criteria to measure performance (such as classroom management, clarity of instruction, and student behaviour and attitudes)
- 'Pupils' learning' cannot be measured through a single lesson observation alone
- All models are high inference and need qualitative, subjective scoring in some way
- All observers therefore need high standards of training, carried out on a regular basis, to calibrate their judgements
Apr 18: inspection handbook changes
Minor changes to inspection handbook and short (section 8) inspection handbook
- 'Good' schools, and 'good' or 'outstanding' pupil referral units, special schools and maintained nursery schools will receive a short inspection approximately every 4 years (previously this was 3 years) - see paragraphs 23 and 25 of the School Inspection Handbook, and paragraphs 5, 40 and 43 of the section 8 inspection handbook
- Schools graded 'requires improvement' will receive their next section 5 inspection "usually within 30 months" of the publication of their inspection report (previously this was within 24 months) - see paragraph 99 of the School Inspection Handbook, and paragraphs 92 and 93 of the section 8 inspection handbook
- Academies judged to have serious weaknesses or requiring special measures that are not rebrokered to a new trust will now be re-inspected within 30 months (previously this was within 18 or 24 months respectively). See paragraphs 115 and 116 of the School Inspection Handbook and paragraphs 119 and 120 of the section 8 inspection handbook
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