Ofsted  www.ofsted.gov.uk

Latest news and changes to the Inspection Process - January 2018

Ofsted has made a range of changes to the inspection process for 2018

  • Ofsted’s annual report reveals that of 170 local authority-maintained schools that were Ofsted inadequate in April last year, when new rules requiring the DfE to convert them to academy came into force, 65 of which have still not converted to academy status; problems in finding sponsors is the most common reason.
  • Launching her first Ofsted Annual Report as Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector, Amanda Spielman said:

o   94% of early years providers are now rated good or outstanding

o   90% of primary schools and 79% of secondary schools are good or outstanding

o   80% of further education and skills providers of are good or outstanding

o   83% of children’s homes are now good and outstanding

o   more local authority children’s services are on a path to improvement

However, she stressed that there are still areas of persistent under-performance in the education and care systems.

o   There are a small group of schools that have not improved over many years, including around 130 where under-performance has stretched for up to a decade. These schools share some similar characteristics, including unstable leadership, high staff turnover and difficulty recruiting. Many have high proportions of pupils from deprived areas and above average proportions of pupils with special education needs and/or disabilities (SEND). These schools have all received considerable attention and investment from external agencies, but none of these interventions has worked. Yet schools in similar circumstances are achieving well, showing that improvement is possible.

o   The report also highlights problems in capacity within the school-led system. The best school leaders and strongest academy trusts are spread too thinly. They cannot provide all the support needed to help other schools improve. The Chief Inspector made clear that there is a challenge for both policy-makers and the education system to break down ivory towers and ensure that the best schools and leaders are supporting those in need.

o   There is no doubt that the leadership challenge facing some schools is great. But progress is possible and we should all be wary of using the makeup of a school community as an excuse for underperformance. I do find myself frustrated with the culture of ‘disadvantage one-upmanship’ that has emerged in some places. Fixating on all the things holding schools back can distract us all from working on the things that take them forward. Schools with all ranges of children can and do succeed. Where this is difficult, what is needed is greater support and leadership from within the system. That means making sure the system has the capacity to provide this support. And this isn’t about just about incremental ‘interventions’ or ‘challenge’. Good schools teach a strong curriculum effectively, and they do it in an orderly and supportive environment: getting this right is the core job of any school. That is what we need to help these problematic schools to deliver.

o   An increasing number of conservative religious schools deliberately flouting British values and equalities law. Illegal ‘schools’ are also being created in order to avoid teaching fundamental values of democracy, mutual tolerance and respect.

o   Weaknesses in the statutory framework for the early years foundation stage as a guide for children’s learning in Reception Year. Schools that are best at preparing children for Year 1 are going beyond the framework and setting more challenging expectations, with an emphasis on reading and maths.

o   The apprenticeship levy is raising a substantial amount of money to fund training. Without adequate scrutiny we will risk repeating the mistakes of the past - attracting cowboy operators that are not committed to high quality learning.

o   Domestic abuse is the most common factor in the lives of children who need social care services. But more emphasis needs to be placed on tackling perpetrators and understanding what works to stop abusive behaviour.

o   Secure children’s homes are doing well for children and young people. But young offender institutions and secure training centres are sometimes extremely poor, closing down opportunities for rehabilitation of juvenile offenders.

o   Some children and young people needing SEND support are having a very poor experience of the education system. And some parents have been pressured to keep their children at home because leaders say they can’t meet their needs. This is unacceptable.

Over the next 12 months, Ofsted will continue to act as a force for improvement. New inspections of local authority children’s services will begin in January, with a greater focus on catching areas before they fall. Work will also get underway to develop a new education inspection framework for 2019, building on recent findings and with a particular focus on the curriculum. And in FE and skills, Ofsted will closely monitor the quality of training to make sure learners get the entitlement they deserve.

A copy of the full report and also a summary can be found on the above website, Documents-Latest Documents

See also https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/amanda-spielman-on-the-launch-of-ofsteds-annual-report-201617

  • Ofsted has confirmed new arrangements for short inspections. This means that from January 2018:

o   inspectors will continue to convert short inspections, usually within 48 hours, if they have serious concerns about safeguarding or behaviour, or if they think the quality of education provided by a school has declined to inadequate

o   when there are no significant issues with safeguarding or behaviour, but inspectors identify potential concerns about either the quality of education or leadership and management, the inspection will not convert. Instead, Ofsted will publish a letter setting out the school’s strengths and areas for improvement. A section 5 inspection will then take place later, typically within 1 to 2 years. This will give the school time to address any weaknesses and seek support from appropriate bodies. In the meantime, the letter will be clear that the school’s current overall effectiveness judgement has not changed.

o   when inspectors have reason to believe that a school may be improving towards an outstanding judgement, Ofsted will publish a letter confirming that the school is still good and setting out its strengths and priorities for further improvement. A section 5 inspection will then take place within 1 to 2 years, giving the school time to consolidate its strong practice. However, requests from schools for early inspections will be considered. The majority of short inspections will confirm that the school remains good and, as now, Ofsted will return to carry out another short inspection after approximately 3 years.

The response to the consultation can be found at https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/short-inspections-of-good-schools-maintained-schools-and-academies

As a result, Ofsted has issued revised versions of:

o   Handbook for short, monitoring and unannounced behaviour school inspections, section 8

o   School inspection handbook, section 5

A copy of these can be found on the above website, Documents-Latest Documents

Ofsted has issued an updated list of providers who have been judged to have outstanding overall effectiveness in an Ofsted inspection. See https://www.gov.uk/government/statistical-data-sets/outstanding-providers