Outcomes Not Processes

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What changes lie ahead for the education sector in England and Wales?

This is a summary of the Department for Education’s White Paper, published on 17th March 2016.

The DfE are ‘backing great teachers and great leaders to drive up standards in schools, so fair, robust, ambitious accountability is vital to monitor those standards, identify schools and areas that need extra support, and ensure children receive the education they deserve.’

DfE White Paper 2016 March

Download the document.

If the core business of education is teaching and learning, we now have a green light to get on with it. No more lesson gradings. And now, no more judgment in OfSTED inspections.

Soon-to-be-removed, the judgment on the overall quality of teaching and learning, replaced with a genuine over-time methodology focusing on data and what schools achieve over time … will be the future for all of us.

DfE White Paper 2016 March

Robust, Independent Inspection:

On page 107, there are some fascinating and hopeful recommendations made by the DfE (on OfSTED).

7.10. Although teachers and leaders currently recognise the value of inspection, some feel that it creates an unnecessary burden. We also know that some teachers and leaders think that inspection outcomes can be inconsistent, or worry that schools need to prepare particular evidence in particular formats for inspectors.

7.11. During the last Parliament, [the DfE] focused inspection on schools’ core functions, reducing the number of separate judgements made by inspectors from 27 to 4. [DfE] targeted inspection where it was most needed, exempting outstanding schools from routine inspections while they continue to perform well.

7.12. A slimmed down school inspection framework was introduced in January 2012 and later that year, Good became the acceptable standard for schools …

7.13. Changes introduced in September 2015 went further to decrease burdens and improve the reliability and consistency of inspections …

7.15: In the years ahead, we will work with Ofsted to ensure: a. School inspection is increasingly focused on what is essential to make valid judgements about school effectiveness, looking at outcomes, and judging areas which can be most effectively assessed through inspection b. The inspection regime is increasingly focused on underperformance, and the inspection of schools graded good or outstanding is increasingly proportionate to risk, informed by factors such as parental complaints or a drop in pupil outcomes c. The inspection system does not disincentivise our best sponsors and leaders from working in challenging schools

7.21. Despite recent reforms and clarifications, such as Ofsted no longer judging the quality of individual lessons and confirming they do not have a preferred teaching style, some schools continue to tell us that they feel they are judged on whether or not they follow particular styles of teaching.

The Beginning of the End!

Is this the beginning of the end for assessment (judgment) on the quality of teaching and learning – individual and collectively.

7.22 paragraph is essential reading.

DfE White Paper 2016 March

7.24. In consulting on and implementing this change, Ofsted will also consider how best to further streamline the handbook so that inspection is focused closely on what matters most – outcomes not processes.

7.25. [DfE] will also use Ofsted’s judgements in a more sophisticated way. These judgements provide an important indicator of a school’s success for its pupils, valued by parents and the public, and [DfE] want to maintain this. But in the past [DfE] have relied on some elements of these judgements – particularly the Outstanding judgement – as an indicator of aspects of schools’ effectiveness that aren’t the focus of a school inspection, which increased the stakes further. We will make more sophisticated use of Ofsted’s judgements in future, alongside other evidence,


Here is a (partial) executive summary of the entire White Paper. The DfE will:

a. Embed reforms to primary, secondary and 16-19 accountability that focus on the progress of all pupils, and their destinations. These reforms will ensure our measures are fair – highlighting where a school is doing better for a child than the same child would have done elsewhere

b. Work with Ofsted to ensure inspection is fair and increasingly focused on underperformance, where it can add most value. Inspection of schools graded Good or Outstanding will be increasingly proportionate to a transparent assessment of risk, and Ofsted will consult on removing the separate graded judgments on the quality of teaching, learning and assessment to help clarify that the focus of inspection is on outcomes and to reduce burdens on schools and teachers

c. Launch new accountability measures for MATs, publishing MAT performance tables in addition to the continued publication of, and focus on, inspection and performance data at individual school level

d. Publish improved and more accessible school performance data to inform school choice and help parents and governing boards to hold schools to account

e. Ensure Regional Schools Commissioners are able to commission support and intervention for schools identified as underperforming. Headteacher Boards, which will continue to comprise top headteachers elected by their peers and appointed for their track records, will provide an important check and balance for academy leaders to scrutinise and challenge the decisions of RSCs.

Letter to headteachers:

A letter was written to local authorities, academy trusts and maintained schools about the ‘Educational excellence everywhere’ white paper. Here is a copy of the letter written by @NickGibbMP.


There is a useful one-page summary of the DfE’s strategy overview for the next five years. You can open this image below or find it within the White Paper on page 124.

DfE White Paper 2016 March

Schools Week newspaper has published an excellent summary. You can also download the 125-page policy, condensed to one page; why not share it with your leadership team?

‘Cheers’ to a slow-move towards taking control of our profession. Next stop, league tables …


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