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How Ofsted inspects 'personal development'
Learn how Ofsted inspects 'personal development' under the 2019 framework, including how SMSC development is considered. Download our list of questions inspectors might ask about British values.
What inspectors are looking for
The 'personal development' judgement evaluates:
- Your school's intent to provide for the personal development of all pupils, and
- The quality with which you implement this work
Ofsted recognises that you often won't be able to assess the impact of your personal development provision while a pupil is at your school. For that reason, inspectors won't try to measure the impact of your provision on individual pupils.
Inspectors will check you're:
- Responsible, respectful and active citizens who are able to play their part and become actively involved in public life as adults
- Pupils’ understanding of the fundamental British values of democracy, individual liberty, the rule of law and mutual respect and tolerance
- Pupils’ character, which Ofsted defines as a set of positive personal traits, dispositions and virtues that informs their motivation and guides their conduct so that they reflect wisely, learn eagerly, behave with integrity and cooperate consistently well with others
- Pupils’ confidence, resilience and knowledge so that they can keep themselves mentally healthy
- Pupils’ understanding of how to keep physically healthy, eat healthily and maintain an active lifestyle, including giving ample opportunities for pupils to be active during the school day and through extra-curricular activities
- Pupils’ age-appropriate understanding of healthy relationships through appropriate relationships and sex education
- Equality of opportunity so that all pupils can thrive together, understanding that difference is a positive, not a negative, and that individual characteristics make people unique
- An inclusive environment that meets the needs of all pupils, irrespective of age, disability, gender reassignment, race, religion or belief, sex or sexual orientation
- Pupils to recognise online and offline risks to their wellbeing – for example, risks from criminal and sexual exploitation, domestic abuse, female genital mutilation, forced marriage, substance misuse, gang activity, radicalisation and extremism – and making them aware of the support available to them
- Pupils to recognise the dangers of inappropriate use of mobile technology and social media
- Readiness for the next phase of education, training or employment so that pupils are equipped to make the transition successfully
- An effective careers programme in line with the government’s statutory guidance on careers advice that offers pupils:
- Unbiased careers advice
- Experience of work, and
- Contact with employers to encourage pupils to aspire, make good choices and understand what they need to do to reach and succeed in the careers to which they aspire
See pages 58 to 59 of the inspection handbook.
SMSC development is evaluated as part of the 'personal development' judgement
Here's what inspectors may look for in pupils related to each aspect of spiritual, moral, social and cultural (SMSC) development:
- Ability to be reflective about their own beliefs (religious or otherwise) and perspective on life
- Knowledge of, and respect for, different people’s faiths, feelings and values
- Sense of enjoyment and fascination in learning about themselves, others and the world around them
- Use of imagination and creativity in their learning
- Willingness to reflect on their experiences
- Ability to recognise the difference between right and wrong and to readily apply this understanding in their own lives, and to recognise legal boundaries and, in doing so, respect the civil and criminal law of England
- Understanding of the consequences of their behaviour and actions
- Interest in investigating and offering reasoned views about moral and ethical issues and ability to understand and appreciate the viewpoints of others on these issues
- Use of a range of social skills in different contexts, for example, working and socialising with other pupils, including those from different religious, ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds
- Willingness to participate in a variety of communities and social settings, including by volunteering, cooperating well with others and being able to resolve conflicts effectively
- Acceptance of and engagement with the fundamental British values of democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty and mutual respect and tolerance of those with different faiths and beliefs. They will develop and demonstrate skills and attitudes that will allow them to participate fully in and contribute positively to life in modern Britain
- Understanding and appreciation of the wide range of cultural influences that have shaped their own heritage and that of others
- Understanding and appreciation of the range of different cultures in the school and further afield as an essential element of their preparation for life in modern Britain
- Ability to recognise, and value, the things we share in common across cultural, religious, ethnic and socio-economic communities
- Knowledge of Britain’s democratic parliamentary system and its central role in shaping our history and values, and in continuing to develop Britain
- Willingness to participate in and respond positively to artistic, musical, sporting and cultural opportunities
- Interest in exploring, improving understanding of and showing respect for different faiths and cultural diversity and the extent to which they understand, accept, respect and celebrate diversity. This is shown by their respect and attitudes towards different religious, ethnic and socio-economic groups in the local, national and global communities
See pages 59 to 61 of the inspection handbook (linked to above).
Relationships and sex education (RSE)
The new curriculum became compulsory in September 2020 - if you weren't ready to start teaching it due to COVID-19, you'll need to start to deliver it from the beginning of summer term 2021 (but no later).
If you're failing to meet your obligations, inspectors will consider this when reaching the personal development judgement.
Read more about:
- Relationships and health education: new requirements from 2020 (primary)
- Relationships and sex education: new requirements from 2020 (secondary)
How Ofsted will gather evidence
Inspectors will look at:
- The range, quality and take-up of extra-curricular activities offered by the school
- How curriculum subjects such as citizenship, RE, and other areas such as personal, social, health and economic education, and relationship and sex education, contribute to pupils’ personal development
- How well leaders promote British values through the curriculum, assemblies, wider opportunities, visits, discussions and literature
- How well leaders develop pupils’ character through the education that they provide
- Where appropriate, the quality of debate and discussions that pupils have
- Pupils’ understanding of the protected characteristics and how equality and diversity are promoted
- The quality of careers information, education, advice and guidance, and how well it benefits pupils in choosing and deciding on their next steps
See page 61 of the inspection handbook.
You don't have to prepare any evidence for inspectors
Inspectors will get their evidence related to 'personal development' through:
- Observations of pupils and staff
- Discussions with pupils and staff
- Evaluating the curriculum
Evidence gathered for other judgement areas will also feed into this judgement. For example:
- Curriculum maps that demonstrate integration of lessons related to British values or online safety
- Behaviour records that show how the school has responded to incidents of bullying (or lack thereof)
- How pupils interact with each other in and out of the classroom
Questions inspectors may ask staff, governors and pupils about British values
Download this list to help you get an idea:
To achieve an 'outstanding' grade you must meet all the criteria for a 'good' grade securely and consistently.
You must also meet the following criteria:
- Personal development is exceptional
- You consistently promote the extensive personal development of your pupils. You go beyond the expected, so that pupils have access to a wide, rich set of experiences. Opportunities for pupils to develop their talents and interests are of exceptional quality
- There's a strong take-up by pupils of the opportunities provided. The most disadvantaged pupils consistently benefit from this excellent work
- You provide these rich experiences in a coherently planned way, in the curriculum and through extra-curricular activities, and they considerably strengthen your school’s offer
- The way you go about developing pupils’ character is exemplary and is worthy of being shared with others
You'll be rated either 'good' or 'requires improvement' using a 'best fit' approach based on the inspector's professional judgement.
'Good' schools will:
- Provide high-quality pastoral support
- Provide a wide range of opportunities to nurture, develop and stretch pupils’ talents and interests. Pupils appreciate these and make good use of them
- Prepare pupils for life in modern Britain effectively, developing their understanding of the fundamental British values of democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty, tolerance and respect
- Promote equality of opportunity and diversity effectively
- Provide pupils with meaningful opportunities to understand how to be responsible, respectful, active citizens who contribute positively to society
- Work to enhance pupils' SMSC development, and this work is high quality
Your curriculum will:
- Extend beyond the academic, vocational or technical and provide for pupils’ broader development
- Support pupils to be confident, resilient and independent, and to develop strength of character
- Engage with views, beliefs and opinions that are different from their own, in considered ways
- Show respect for the different protected characteristics as defined in law and not tolerate discrimination
- Know how to discuss and debate issues in a considered way
- Understand, appreciate and respect differences in the world and its people, celebrating things we share in common across cultural, religious, ethnic and socio-economic communities
- Know how to eat healthily, maintain an active lifestyle and keep physically and mentally healthy
- Have an age-appropriate understanding of healthy relationships
Secondary schools will:
- Prepare pupils for future success in education, employment or training. They use the Gatsby Benchmarks to develop and improve their careers provision and enable a range of education and training providers to speak to pupils in Years 8 to 13. All pupils receive unbiased information about potential next steps and high-quality careers guidance
- Provide good quality, meaningful opportunities for pupils to encounter the world of work
- Personal development in the school is not good
Personal development is likely to be 'inadequate' if any of the following applies:
- A significant minority of pupils don't receive a wide, rich set of experiences
- Leaders and those responsible for governance:
- Through their words, actions or influence, directly and/or indirectly, undermine or fail to promote equality of opportunity in the school
- Aren't protecting pupils from radicalisation and extremist views. Policy and practice are poor, which means that pupils are at risk
- Are actively undermining fundamental British values
- Pupils or groups of pupils:
- Are discriminated against, and the school is not taking effective action to address this
- Are unprepared for life in modern Britain
See pages 62 to 64 of the inspection handbook.
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