The new academic year is now well underway. And with it comes changes to the Ofsted framework. Ofsted inspections can be a stressful time for schools, and the new changes may fuel those worries. However, it’s good to know what’s ahead of you when an inspection is on the horizon, and in this blog we discuss the big changes that have now been implemented.
Longer ‘short’ inspections
Gone are the days of the one-day short inspection. Ofsted believes that a one-day inspection is too limited a time for them to get the relevant information they need in order to effectively judge how a school is to be rated. Instead, moving forward, they have increased the duration of an inspection . However, if the inspector believes a school has gotten better or worse over this period, they will still have the power to upgrade the inspection to a full inspection, allowing them more time to fully consider a change in rating.
Internal data no longer of use
An interesting new change to the way Ofsted will be carrying out inspections is that they will no longer be looking at internal assessment data – instead they will be reviewing nationally generated performance data. However, they can still look at attendance and behaviour data – especially as there is a new criteria for acting on bullying, determining how effective a school’s response to behaviour incidents is. It has long been a pressure for schools to have to present key data to an inspector when required, so it will be a welcome relief for staff to no longer have this to worry about. The inspectorate has said that instead, it wants its inspectors to get as much first-hand evidence as possible from speaking to teachers and pupils[i]. However, just because the data no longer needs to be presented doesn’t mean it won’t have to be explained. Inspectors will be quizzing school leaders as to why they collect the streams of data that they do.
Out with the old, in with the new
Ofsted are scrapping the current personal development, behaviour and welfare judgement and replacing it with two new ones: behaviour and attitudes as well as personal development. The change - splitting the one judgement into two - means that how a school handles discipline issues will now be judged separately to how they improve a learner academically.
Outstanding schools no longer exempt
In the past when a school had achieved an outstanding rating with Ofsted they were given a lot of leeway, with some escaping another inspection for as long as a decade![i] However, once it’s passed in parliament, this exception will be lifted, making outstanding schools just as eligible for an inspection as any other school. Plus, with the aim to recruit 30 new Her Majesty’s Inspectors (HMIs this year, there is a greater opportunity to inspect more schools annually (dependent on budgets, of course).
It remains to be seen how effective these new changes will be. However, Ofsted are confident that they will give them a deeper understanding of each school – with their being key to this. Not looking at a school’s internal data is an interesting change, which is sure to raise a few eyebrows, as this had been an effective tool in the past to provide inspectors with an overview of key trends in learner data. Ultimately, it means that more of the inspection is done by actually talking to, and getting to know, staff and learners rather than just judging from the data, making the inspections more personal, and hopefully more effective. Only time will tell.