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Ofsted and the White Paper – the Big Issues

Recently, The Government White Paper, “Educational Excellence Everywhere” was published, with far reaching implications on a number of issues.

It proposes that, in the new academic year, Ofsted will consult on:

removing the separate graded judgements on the quality of teaching, learning and assessment”.

It does, however, point out that:

teaching, learning and assessment are a school’s core business

and also reminds schools that:

inspectors will still report on the impact of teaching, learning and assessment though the other graded judgements.”


This is a good opportunity to clarify Ofsted’s requirements and to point out some of the pitfalls that schools might fall into.

Inspectors will still undertake classroom visits which serve a number of purposes, including helping inspectors develop their overall evaluation of the school, providing an opportunity for inspectors to talk to teachers and pupils about their work and experiences in school and gathering information about the effectiveness of school policies, including for behaviour.


There is no requirement for schools to provide individual lesson plans for inspectors;
Ofsted does not specify how planning should be set out or the amount of detail it should contain. What is of concern is the effectiveness of planning in supporting learning.


There is no specific format. It should be part of the school’s normal practice and processes.

Grading of Lessons

Ofsted does not award a grade for individual lessons and does not expect schools to use the Ofsted evaluation schedule to grade teaching or individual lessons.

There is no expectation that schools undertake a specific amount of lesson observation.

Schools are not expected to provide specific examples of the pay grade of individual teachers observed.

Pupils’ Work

There is no expectation of a particular frequency or quantity in books or folders. Amounts will depend on the subject and the age and ability of the pupils.

Marking and feedback, both written and oral, are important aspects of assessment. However, there is no expectation of specific frequency, type or volume. Marking should be consistent with the school’s stated policy, cater for different subjects and ages and be effective in promoting learning. Teachers’ workload must be considered.


A range of evidence will be taken into account when formulating judgements. This will include published and in-house performance data and work in pupils’ books and folders.


Ofsted will expect to see evidence of the monitoring of teaching and learning and its link to teachers’ performance management and the teachers’ standards. This should be information the school uses routinely, not generated additionally.

Adapted from

What does this mean?

At first glance it looks as if schools can reduce the rigour with which they monitor and evaluate teaching and learning. However, any lessening of appropriate focus will mean they may be vulnerable, especially if pupil outcomes show any sign of decline.

As the White Paper points out, “The quality of teaching is more important to pupil outcomes than anything else a school can control.

Therefore, schools:

  • must still be able to demonstrate a continuing focus on developing and maintaining high quality teaching through effective leadership;
  • will still be expected to have to have a view, backed up by evidence, about the quality of teaching, and any trends evolving, at whole school, subject, phase, year group or even individual level which inform both performance management, any training and professional development activities (CPD);
  • should have teacher development at the forefront of their activities. They should use sound, broad based evidence. The range includes:
    • data – progress of individuals/groups;
    • work scrutinies;
    • learning walks;
    • pupil voice – what pupils think of their learning experience;
    • planning.

With Ofsted notice being so short, one crucial question for the school to ask is, “Do we have the evidence in a simple form to be able to show both action and impact, at hand or easily generated on any given day?”

How can we help?

We have two products which enable you to address the issues outlined above within the White Paper and by Ofsted. Lessons Learned – Teaching and Learning Development Module and Lessons Learned – Staff Appraisal and Development Module.

For more information or to arrange a free online demo please call us on 0800 788 0444, email, or visit our Lessons Learned site to use our online booking form:

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