Ofsted: latest updates

Updated on 21 September 2018

December 2018

‘150 minutes’ notice’ for inspections under new framework?

12 December: Tes is reporting that inspectors could give just over 2 hours warning before arriving the same day under the new framework. Inspectors would arrive at the school to prepare and discuss plans with leaders, before beginning a formal inspection the next day.

Ofsted itself says it has “no plans to reduce the formal notice period”, but Tes suggests that this proposal wouldn’t be an adjustment to the notice period, as the actual inspection wouldn’t begin until the next day.


Secondary curricula score higher than primary in Ofsted study

11 December: Ofsted’s published the findings of phase 3 of its curriculum research:

  • Schools can produce equally strong curricula regardless of the amount of deprivation in their communities, suggesting that Ofsted’s proposed new approach could be fairer to schools in disadvantaged areas
  • Only 8 out of 33 primary schools sampled scored highly for their curriculum overall, compared with 16 out of 29 secondary schools
  • The quality of curriculum in foundation subjects in primary schools was rated poorly compared to that in core subjects

In her commentary, Amanda Spielman reiterated that Ofsted would try to keep the overall proportion of schools achieving each grade “roughly the same” between the old framework and new, and emphasised that Ofsted will better recognise schools in challenging circumstances. 


Parent View to be replaced

10 December: Ofsted’s working on a project to replace Parent View with a new service, HMCI Amanda Spielman has revealed in a letter to the Public Accounts Committee.

She said the new system is being designed to “increase the volume, quality and diversity of views” it gathers from parents.

She also said:

  • Ofsted’s been conducting focus groups with parents to find out how they’d like to share their views
  • Ofsted will be launching “new style reports” alongside its new framework, with the design informed by parent feedback to make sure they’re accessible and give parents the information they need
  • She is confident that Ofsted “will be able to allocate more inspector time to on site activities” in short inspections under the new inspection framework

Dec 18: HMCI’s annual report, DfE tells Ofsted to inspect more ‘outstanding’ schools

‘Stuck’ schools highlighted in HMCI’s annual report

4 December: HMCI Amanda Spielman’s annual report for 2017/18 sets out “areas most of concern” including:

  • ‘Stuck’ schools which “haven’t improved enough over many years” – the report says around 490 schools have been judged ‘requires improvement’ or ‘inadequate’ in every inspection since 2005
  • The ‘outstanding’ school exemption from inspection – HMCI says that the exemption needs to be lifted and Ofsted given the resource to inspect ‘outstanding’ schools, so that the ‘outstanding’ grade can “maintain its reputation”
  • ‘Off-rolling’ – Ofsted’s identified about 300 schools with ‘exceptional levels’ of pupils coming off-roll between years 10 and 11
    Rising exclusions among pupils with SEND

The report also gives some further pointers regarding the content of the proposed new inspection framework, which will:

  • Include changes which “strengthen the focus on early reading”
  • Allow Ofsted to identify and report on schools which use off-rolling to remove pupils who might achieve less well

‘Inspect 10% of ‘outstanding’ schools’, schools minister tells Ofsted

3 December: Schools minister Nick Gibb has asked Ofsted to review its current risk assessment arrangements and inspect 10% of ‘outstanding’ schools this coming year.

 This is in response to the concerns raised by the National Audit Office and the Public Accounts Committee about the impact of the government’s exemption policy.

The exemption of ‘outstanding’ schools from routine inspection remains in place.


November 2018

Nov 18: DfE considers ‘outstanding’ exemption, more on curriculum research

DfE “considering” review of inspection exemption for ‘outstanding’ schools 

12 November: The DfE is “considering” the public accounts committee’s recommendation for the government to review the inspection exemption for ‘outstanding’ schools, schools minister Nick Gibb told the House of Commons. It’ll be responding formally in December.  


8 November: Ofsted slideshow sets out new framework approach

 A new series of slides from Ofsted covers points including:

  • The importance of curriculum in the new framework, and the findings of Ofsted’s curriculum research (slides 5-13)
  • How the current judgement areas map to the new proposed areas, and a more detailed breakdown of coverage for each area (slides 17-18)
  • Ofsted’s focus on safeguarding (slide 20)

The slideshow also sets out a time frame (slide 23):

  • Spring term 2019: consultation on the “substance and detail” of the framework
  • Summer 2019: final framework published
  • 1 September 2019: new framework goes live

October 2018

Oct 18: new judgement areas focus on curriculum, new Ofsted website

Conversations with senior and middle leaders to play a bigger role in inspections

15 October: Inspectors will place greater emphasis on discussions with senior and middle leaders, and “away from teaching itself”, under the new framework.


11 October: New judgement areas place curriculum centre stage

The proposed new judgement areas from 2019 will put less weight on test and exam results, and more focus on the curriculum. The judgements are:

  • Quality of education (to replace the current ‘outcomes for pupils’ and ‘teaching, learning and assessment’ judgements)
  • Personal development
  • Behaviour and attitudes (the existing ‘personal development, welfare and behaviour’ judgement is split between ‘behaviour and attitudes’ and ‘personal development’)
  • Schools’ leadership and management

The ‘overall effectiveness’ judgement and the current 4-point grading system, including the ‘outstanding’ grade, will remain the same. There’ll be a consultation on the proposals in January.


2 October: New inspection report website goes live

Ofsted has developed a new website for its inspection reports. It’s simpler to access on non-desktop devices and makes it easier to find information.


September 2018

18 September: “Imperative” that new framework has curriculum as central focus, says HMCI

HMCI Amanda Spielman aims for Ofsted’s new inspection framework to place “much more emphasis” on the curriculum, which she terms “the substance of education”.

She emphasised this in discussing the findings of Ofsted’s recent curriculum research, and also said:

  • The research showed there are a range of approaches to curriculum design, and beyond the national curriculum, it’s up to school leaders to decide on the content and structure of knowledge and how this is delivered
  • Ofsted is investigating how it can consistently judge schools “taking radically different approaches to the curriculum” as part of its planning for the new framework
  • Inspecting the ‘how’ as well as the ‘what’ of curriculum will be important in the new framework

12 September: Headteachers call for Ofsted to ‘pause’ framework launch

Headteachers have urged Ofsted to “pause” the launch of its new inspection framework, citing concerns about the additional teacher workload it could bring. Tes (free sign up required)


7 September: MPs call for review of short inspection model

Ofsted’s short inspections don’t give inspectors enough time to “make a meaningful assessment of a school’s performance”, according to a new report from the public accounts committee.

It recommended that Ofsted and the DfE evaluate the costs and benefits of other options, such as undertaking more full inspections.


August 2018

20 August: New inspection report website to go live in September

Ofsted’s developed a new website for its inspection reports. It says the website:

  • Uses up-to-date technology
  • Is simpler to access on non-desktop devices
  • Makes it easier for you to find information, with more streamlined content

The new website will be fully live from the beginning of September, and the old website will be switched off.


20 August: Ofsted publishes findings of annual teachers survey 

54% of teachers belive Ofsted inspecting their school will mean a huge amount of unnecessary extra work, according to the findings of Ofsted’s 2018 teachers survey.

Other findings included:

  • Eight in 10 teachers:
    • Correctly identified that it was false that ‘as part of an inspection, Ofsted inspectors grade individual lessons’
    • Correctly think Ofsted does not require teachers to provide individual lesson plans for inspectors
  • Seven out of 10 teachers feel they had no or little opportunity to feed their views and contribute to the whole experience of their school being inspected
  • 62% of teachers whose school has been inspected by Ofsted feel the final judgement reached by the inspection team was a fair and accurate assessment, an increase of 5% since 2017
  • 21% of teachers have seen ‘off-rolling’ happen (a practice where pupils are excluded as a means of improving overall results).

15 August: New “quality of education” measure for 2019?

Ofsted is planning to combine the current teaching, learning and assessment rating with the pupil outcomes grade to create a new “quality of education” measure in its 2019 inspection framework, according to Tes.


July 2018

17 July: Updated School Inspection Handbook published 

Ofsted’s made some minor changes to its  School Inspection Handbook, which include:

  • Further clarification on the inspection of religious education and collective worship added to the annex
  • More points added to its clarification for schools about what inspectors look at (these points are also covered in its updated mythbusting guidance)
  • Further explanation about the implications for schools causing concern

Read more about these changes.


9 July: HMCI discusses promotion of British values

HMCI Amanda Spielman addressed teachers’ uncertainty about how schools are expected to teach British values. She said that in her view, teachers are expected to give children a “proper understanding” of:

  • British values
  • What these values have contributed (and continue to contribute) to the strength and success of British society

In her speech to the Policy Exchange think tank, she also:

  • Rejected the suggestion that Ofsted has “an anti-faith school bias”
  • Expressed hope that Ofsted’s renewed focus on curriculum will encourage schools to think more about what they’re teaching and what they aim to get from that teaching

5 July: “No major changes” to inspection handbooks for September 2018

Sean Harford has revealed that Ofsted’s section 5 and section 8 inspection handbooks, which cover full and short inspections respectively, will not have major changes for September 2018.

He explains this in his message to inspectors in the July 2018 school inspection update, and says that this is in view of Ofsted’s revised framework for 2019 (page 2).

The inspection update also sets out guidance on what inspectors should be looking at regarding the English Baccalaureate (EBacc) in schools (pages 5-7). It says that from September 2018 onwards, inspectors must ask school leaders:

  • Whether they are aware of the government’s ambition for the vast majority of pupils to study the EBacc
  • What they are planning and doing to reflect the EBacc subjects and ambition in their curriculum

However, inspectors won’t expect school leaders to:

  • Have developed or to present separate plans about the EBacc
  • Provide additional information outside of their normal curriculum planning

4 July: Ofsted trials new approach for inspections of MAT schools

Read about how Ofsted is revising its current practice for the inspection of schools in MATs, and how it hopes to improve the inspection experience for MAT leaders and their academies through a new approach it’s trialling this term.

HMCI Amanda Spielman revealed this in a speech at the Education Policy Institute conference. She’s also indicated that for its 2019 framework, Ofsted is considering how it can “take the inspection conversation even further on education itself and less on data”.

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