What does Ofsted’s draft consultation say in the proposed inspection framework?
On social media, you would be forgiven for thinking that I was against the work that Ofsted hope to achieve in the year ahead. What I would like to highlight in this post, is the work that Sean Harford has achieved on social media (though, still many myths to bust on the ground) and my hopes for Amanda Spielman. I wish to offer comments in a positive frame and provide a summary for the busy classroom teacher and school leader.
The consultation was published on the Department for Education’s website on 16 January 2019 and is open until 5 April 2019. There is a healthy period of opportunity for everyone to engage in how our education settings are evaluated across England.
If you do not respond, then don’t complain about the process. Alongside the consultation, Ofsted has published:
- the consultation documents are here with a questionnaire and the ways to respond.
- the draft inspection framework for 2019 is available to read. Do dig into the details if you want to respond to early years, non-association and independent schools, or further education and skills. I have focused this post on maintained schools and academies only.
- There is an online survey with I would encourage readers to complete. You can also email your views to firstname.lastname@example.org
- a 63-page commentary setting out what research has informed the framework. I have already written about their observation research which was worrying at the time, but I suspect they have abandoned this which is why teaching and learning has gone from the headline judgements.
- I will blog about this research in another post to understand how they have made their decisions.
The key areas for evaluation have been reshaped and shown below:
- Teaching, learning and assessment was clearly too subjective and unreliable to measure, which is why I believe a new ‘quality of education’ judgement with a curriculum shift, is a positive move forward.
- The focus on outcomes has shifted to quality of education. How the correlates in inspections themselves remain to be seen. The real issue here is, will and how often will Ofsted report on EBacc compliance that the Department for Education publishes in performance league tables. For example, if a head teacher wishes to ignore the EBacc, I believe this will go against them in an Ofsted inspection, despite Ofsted promoting they have no preferred curriculum. If it’s coherent, planned and delivered well, who can argue?
- Internal performance data will not be used for inspection evidence. Hurrah! No unnecessary work for teachers or decisions that end up closing schools forever.
- There are now separate judgements about learners’ ‘personal development’ and ‘behaviour and attitudes’. Top tip from me, make sure your school leaders ask to sit in on inspector-conversations with pupils.
- Extending the on-site time for short inspections of good schools to 2 days will ensure inspectors have sufficient opportunity to gather evidence that a school remains good. I believe no-notice is the way forward for all schools. I also believe outstanding schools remaining exempt is unacceptable.
Despite only 19 per cent of parents reading the full inspection report, Ofsted are clear that they wish to continue grading schools on a four-point scale.
Key questions from me:
- Do inspectors believe they will be able to evaluate a 5-year curriculum offer in just two days?
- If planning needs to match learning but shouldn’t be asked for, how does an inspector believe the can assess this reliably?
- Do Ofsted hope to improve its gender gap pay at leadership level before 1 April 2019?
- Will Ofsted continue to use taxpayer cash to provide bonuses to their leadership teams?
- Will Ofsted continue to ask schools for anonymised performance management data (even though they don’t share theirs)?
- From 1 September 2019, can we have some reassurance that Ofsted will become more transparent? For example, in their complaints procedure, a state school cannot challenge an Ofsted decision.
- Will Ofsted continue to use machine learning algorithms to predict schools at risk of decline? If so, can they share the formula with schools and explain what parameters are used to calculate this?
- In Parent View which schools email out to parents at the time of inspection, will Ofsted continue to ask parents for their views on the quality of teaching and learning, considering a parent has never stepped foot into the classroom to observe a teacher?
My research has discovered that our education ministers and Amanda Spielman have simply not visited enough schools. I hope this changes over the coming year key organisations wish to be transparent, evidence-based and research informed. If we truly want to understand why schools become exam focused, then we need to look at why and how we evaluate schools and why we name and shame them in league tables. Put any of these key people in a corner and talk privately with them, and I suspect with a deep heart, they will admit that grading schools is not the future for our English education system.
I welcome the new proposals, even though some schools will never be inspected under this framework. I hope the links and comments are useful. Yesterday, I offered an olive branch to Professor Daniel Muijs and he responded. Like all human beings, we all want to be heard and my intention is that Ofsted should consider views from sharper end of the wedge, not just the positives.