New Ofsted inspection framework

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Ofsted has unveiled a new inspection framework which will make it harder for schools to be ranked ‘outstanding’ in future.

The new streamlined inspection framework will emphasise four key areas - pupil achievement, teaching standards, behaviour and school leadership.

These four key inspection areas, which will look at practical issues such as reading ability and pupil behaviour, will replace a list of 26 separate assessments.

Overall, the new ground rules for inspections show a shift in emphasis from wellbeing issues, such as safeguarding children, community cohesion and healthy living, towards core academic standards.

As a result, the quality of teaching will become a more important factor in determining how a school is rated, and will mean that schools will usually be expected to be marked as outstanding for teaching, if they are to achieve an overall grade of outstanding.

In previous inspections, more than a quarter of those rated as outstanding overall did not have an outstanding grade for teaching.

Parents will also to comment on schools through an Ofsted website. Parents will be able to log on to the new questionnaire via the Ofsted website from month – at any point - not just at the time of their school’s inspection. They will answer questions such as whether their child is happy at their school, whether the teaching is good and whether the school deals with unacceptable behaviour effectively.
Parents only have to confirm that their child is a pupil at the school being reviewed and supply an email address to inspectors.

The answers will be considered by Ofsted as part of its ‘risk assessment’ concerning whether outstanding or good schools should be brought forward for earlier inspection.

However, some teaching unions reacted angrily to the announcement, claiming that good schools could fall victim to Facebook campaigns by disgruntled parents or even their own pupils.

Ofsted announced earlier this year, that parents would be invited to answer an online questionnaire without having to identify themselves. It now says the results of these questionnaires on the full range of school performance will be published.

This has prompted serious concerns from the Association of School and College Leaders, that this anonymity could be misused by people making malicious claims.

Russell Hobby, leader of the National Association of Head Teachers union, also warned that fake addresses and Facebook campaigns could easily create malicious complaints.

In addition, Ofsted has said that parents will be able to help trigger inspections if areas of concern are raised, but inspectors would look at the full range of information before wading in.

Ofsted chief Miriam Rosen said of the changes: "It is increasingly important that we focus on the key aspects of schools' work and make sure we use our resources where they have the most impact.

"That is why we have streamlined our inspection process to focus on what matters most - to pupils, parents and schools.

"Inspectors will spend even more time in the classroom observing teaching and learning, with a renewed emphasis on reading and literacy skills. Behaviour and how safe children feel will also be closely scrutinised."

The pattern and frequency of inspections will also be changed so that more attention is paid to weaker schools. This means the highest rated schools in the "outstanding" category will no longer face routine inspections, and will only be visited if results decline or parental concerns prompt an inspection.

"Good" schools will face inspections at least every five years, while "satisfactory" schools will be inspected at least every three years and "inadequate" schools will be more closely monitored, with a re-inspection likely within a year.

School Leadership Today
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