Ofsted published an updated version of the School Inspection Handbook on 31st July 2014. This replaces the April 2014 version and also the Subsidiary Guidance (April 2014). This blog is for classroom teachers only and not for any other area of Ofsted inspections.
If you have not spotted any Ofsted updates, you were most likely enjoying the summer holiday. Good on you! I’ve managed to resist the urge to blog about Ofsted until now. I fear these updates are only adding to the minutiae of ‘teaching according to Ofsted’, rather than ‘Ofsted, according to teaching’. Although to be fair, Ofsted are listening and changes are coming as a result of teachers tweeting, blogging updates ‘according to teaching.’ You just need to take a cursory glance at the text highlighted in red below, to see how much detail has been added to dispel any myths and clarify anomalies.
If anything. I’d like to see the guidance reduced.
In summary :
Thank you to @ASCL_UK for this summary. Click the link to download the ASCL summary: Ofsted School Inspection Handbook – July 2014.
The updates – for classroom teachers – is condensed into the 8 sentences below, taken from the ASCL guidance.
Teaching and learning:
- 26. Individual lessons are not graded but where there is sufficient evidence, achievement, behaviour and safety and, leadership and management may be graded.
- 27. Quality of teaching judgement is made considering the strengths and weaknesses of teaching observed across a broad range of lessons.
- 28. Schools do not need to provide records of graded lessons but will be able to discuss how they evaluate the quality of teaching.
- 29. Feedback to teachers or groups of teachers on strengths and weaknesses of what has been observed.
- 30. School leaders and teachers decide for themselves how best to teach.
- 31. Increased focus on the teaching of mathematics ensuring pupils acquire knowledge appropriate to their age and starting points.
- 32. Focus on ensuring teaching assistants are knowledgeable about pupils they support and have sufficient subject knowledge to be effective in their role.
- 33. Increased emphasis on whether teachers command the respect of their classes and set out clear expectations for pupil behaviour.
- 34. Book scrutiny assesses whether marking, assessment and testing are carried out in line with school’s policy and whether they are used effectively to improve pupils’ learning.
- Any text highlighted in red is new for September 2014. Thank you to @HeatherLeatt for the updates. Her website can be found below.
- Anything highlighted in blue, is my response/addition to the Ofsted statement (and should be ignored).
- Apologies if the colours make reading more difficult. The hope is to assist with clarification.
Quality of teaching in the school:
- The most important role of teaching is to promote learning and the acquisition of knowledge (skills and understanding) by pupils and to raise achievement. It is also important in promoting the pupils’ spiritual, moral, social and cultural development. Teaching includes:
- planning for lessons and learning activities at other times in the school day
- how teachers impart knowledge to pupils, instruct them and engage them in other activities which also increase their knowledge(, skill) and understanding
- the setting of appropriate, regular homework across subjects (which contributes to learning).
- marking, assessment and feedback.
It encompasses activities within and outside the classroom, such as additional support and intervention. The quality of teaching received by pupils who attend off-site alternative provision should also be considered and evaluated. (This is an important point of clarification.)
- Inspectors should not grade the quality of teaching in individual lesson observations, learning walks or equivalent activities. In arriving at a judgement on the overall quality of teaching, inspectors must consider strengths and weaknesses of teaching observed across the broad range of lessons. These must then be placed in the context of other evidence of pupils’ learning and progress over time, including work in their books and folders, how well they can explain their knowledge and understanding in subjects, and outcomes in tests and examinations.
(This is an enormous step forward for non-grading of lessons. You can see the first push for this decision here and my latest thoughts on ‘progress over time’ here. It is vital we all are ‘Getting It Right’).
- Inspectors should consider the extent to which the ‘Teachers’ Standards’  are being met. (For every teacher, not just for NQTs.)
(I have questions over inspectors still reading over documents shared by schools, regarding monitoring the quality of teaching. I fear this practice may be accepted in upcoming inspections and has not yet been quashed. I will discuss this in another blog this term.)
Observing teaching and learning:
- Ofsted does not favour any particular teaching style and inspectors must not give the impression that it does. School leaders and teachers should decide for themselves how best to teach, and be given the opportunity, through questioning by inspectors, to explain why they have made the decisions they have and provide evidence of the effectiveness of their choices. (Hurrah! School leaders can now support their own teachers better and have more autnomy over the needs of their own students in their schools.) Moreover, inspectors must not inspect or report in any way that is not stipulated in the framework or this handbook. For example, they should not criticise teacher talk for being overlong or bemoan a lack of opportunity for different activities (including rote or group work) in lessons unless there is unequivocal evidence that this is slowing learning over time. It is unrealistic, too, for inspectors to expect that all work in all lessons will be matched to the specific needs of each individual pupil. Inspectors should not expect to see pupils working on their own or in groups for periods of time in all lessons. (I fear this is a stipulation here.) They should not make the assumption that a particular way of working is always necessary or desirable. Its effectiveness depends on the impact of the quality and challenge of the work set. Pupils may rightly be expected to sit (or stand) and listen to teachers, which of itself is an ‘active’ method through which knowledge(, skills) and understanding can be acquired effectively. Inspectors should not criticise ‘passivity’ as a matter of course and certainly not unless it is evidently stopping pupils from learning new knowledge or gaining skills and understanding. When observing teaching, inspectors should be ‘looking at’ and reflecting on the effectiveness of what is being done to promote learning, not ‘looking for’ specific or particular things. Inspectors should gather robust evidence to judge and report on how well pupils acquire knowledge, learn well and engage with lessons. (Hooray!)
180. Inspectors must evaluate the use of and contribution made by teaching assistants. They should consider whether teaching assistants are clear about their role and knowledgeable about the pupils they support. They should also consider how well the school ensures that teaching assistants have sufficient knowledge of the subjects in which they provide support. (Many schools are now timetabling TAs to specific students and departments to ensure their knowledge, skills and understanding (and value for money) are maximised to their full potential to support groups of students.)
- Inspectors must consider whether:
- teaching engages and includes all pupils with work that is challenging enough and that meets the pupils’ needs as identified by teachers
- teachers command the respect of their classes, set out clear expectations for pupils’ behaviour in line with the direction set by school leaders, start and finish lessons on time and manage teaching resources effectively
- pupils’ responses, in lessons and over time, demonstrate sufficient gains in their knowledge, skills and understanding, including of literacy and mathematics (where appropriate).
- teachers monitor pupils’ responses in lessons and adapt their approach accordingly; also, whether they monitor pupils’ progress over time and use the information well to adapt their planning
- teachers routinely give the necessary attention to the most able and the disadvantaged, as they do to low-attaining pupils or those who struggle at school (These two bullets replace the single bullet which read: ‘teachers monitor pupils’ progress in lessons and use the information well to adapt their teaching’.)
- teachers set homework in line with the school’s policy and that challenges all pupils, especially the most able. (If your school has a homework policy, then it is vital all teachers set it.)
- assessment is frequent and accurate and is used to set challenging work that builds on prior knowledge, understanding and skills
- information at transition points between schools is used effectively so that teachers plan to meet pupils’ needs in all lessons from the outset ‑ this is particularly important between Key Stages 2 and 3; inspectors should consider whether work in Key Stage 3 is demanding enough, especially for the most able when too often undemanding work is repeated unnecessarily. (A huge challenge for many schools.)
- pupils understand well how to improve their work, which goes beyond whether they know their current ‘target grade’ or equivalent
- teaching helps to develop a culture and ethos of scholastic excellence, where the highest achievement in academic work is recognised, especially in supporting the achievement of the most able
- teachers have high expectations of all pupils teaching across the school prepares pupils effectively for the next stage in their education.
- In evaluating the accuracy of assessment, inspectors will consider how well:
- any baseline assessment, teacher assessment and testing are used to modify teaching so that pupils achieve the expected standards by the end of a year or key stage
- assessment draws on a range of evidence of what pupils know, understand and can do in the different aspects of subjects in the curriculum, for example through regular testing
- teachers make consistent judgements and share them with each other, for example within a subject, across a year group and between adjacent year groups.
- Not all aspects of learning ‑ for example pupils’ engagement, interest, concentration, determination, resilience and independence ‑ may be seen or be expected to be seen in a single observation. (Hooray!)
Evaluating learning over time:
- Inspectors’ direct observation must be supplemented by a range of other evidence to enable inspectors to evaluate what teaching is like typically and the impact that teaching has had on pupils’ learning over time. Such additional evidence may include:
- the school’s own evaluations of the quality of teaching and its impact on learning. (I have more to say on this issue.)
- discussions with pupils about the work they have undertaken, what they have learned from it and their experience of teaching and learning over longer periods.
- discussion about teaching and learning with teachers, teaching assistants and other staff.
- the views of pupils, parents and staff.
- scrutiny of pupils’ work, with particular attention to:
- whether marking, assessment and testing are carried out in line with the school’s policy and whether they are used effectively to help teachers improve pupils’ learning
- the level of challenge provided, and whether pupils have to grapple appropriately with content, not necessarily ‘getting it right’ first time, which could be evidence that the work is too easy
- pupils’ effort and success in completing their work and the progress they make over a period of time.
(Mark your books. Every single one of them!)
 Teachers’ Standards, Department for Education, 2011; www.gov.uk/government/publications/teachers-standards.
You can download the Ofsted resources here and read the annotated version here (which I think may be the first of its kind?)
@HeatherLeatt – as ever – has provided the summary which you have read above. Her excellent overview can be downloaded in this annotated version here. As does @MaryMyatt‘s is here and @ClerkToGovernor‘s version is here. Without their free services, we’d all be at a loss!
19.10.14 – You can read my own experience of Ofsted and this new framework when they visited my school on 17/18th September 2014: Observing the Observers.