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Ofsted Inspection Framework – An Update

Following a four-month consultation Ofsted published their new education inspection framework and handbooks on Tuesday 14th May 2019. The new education inspection framework (EIF) will come into effect from September 2019, replacing the outgoing common inspection framework (CIF).

So, what are the big changes?

  • Schools currently judged to be ‘good’ will now receive a 2-day section 8 inspection, a move away from the short 1-day inspection
  • Personal development, behaviour and welfare will be separated into judgements about ‘personal development’ and ‘behaviour and attitudes’
  • An introductory phone call (approximately 90 minutes) with the lead inspector before the inspection begins, to provide opportunity for a greater understanding of a school or settings’ context to be developed ahead of on-site activities. The initial draft proposal for the lead inspector to be on site for a half day prior to the inspection has been dropped due to consultation responses
  • Internal assessment data will no longer be used as evidence
  • However, the most significant change is the introduction of a ‘quality of education’ judgement. This new judgement combines and replaces previous key judgements on ‘teaching, learning and assessment’ and ‘outcomes’. The intended aim being to provide a more holistic view of education, with curriculum being at its heart.

The ‘quality of education’ judgement will be at the centre of all inspections and will draw together discussions and evidence on curriculum, teaching, assessment and standards. When making judgements, Ofsted inspectors will continue to draw heavily on the working definition of curriculum used over the last couple of years with the three main concepts of: ‘intent’, ‘implementation’ and ‘impact’.

However, Ofsted recognise there is a need to “phase in” the “intent” aspect, as schools may want to review their curriculum in response to the new framework but will not have done so by September.

Ofsted have said that during this transitional period the judgment “will not be negatively affected if it is clear to an inspector that leaders have a plan for updating the curriculum and are taking genuine action to do so. We will review this transitional phase in the summer of 2020.”

So how will ‘quality of education’ be assessed? A three-step methodology has been developed for assessing this new judgement. The first step is a top-level view looking at the curriculum, exploring what is on offer, to whom and when, as well as exploring school leaders’ understanding of curriculum and understanding. The next step is a ‘deep dive’.

The aim of the ‘deep dive’ is to allow inspectors to gather evidence to form an accurate evaluation of how education flows from intention to implementation and finally to impact within a school. In primary schools inspectors will always undertake this in reading as well as one or more foundation subjects. This will always include a subject being taught in school at the time inspectors are on-site. Inspectors will also often include mathematics in the ‘deep dive’. For secondary schools the ‘deep dive’ will typically focus on a sample of between four and six subjects, with the aim of looking at a wide variety of pupils in differing year groups across that sample.

The third and final step is ‘bringing it together’ where inspectors will collate the evidence gathered to widen coverage and to test whether any identified issues are systemic. This step will often lead to school leaders bringing forward further supporting evidence and identifying any additional evidence inspectors may need to gather.

Finally, what about data?

Inspectors, as detailed, will be looking at a wide range of evidence to determine a school’s performance against the key judgement areas. Much has been made of inspectors not looking at the school’s internal data. However, this does not mean they don’t think it is important and in reality schools will need to be very clear about their current data and their assessment processes in general. The conversation with inspectors will focus on:

  • Why you’ve decided to collect the assessment information you collect
  • What you’re drawing from this information
  • How that informs your curriculum and teaching

In addition to the internal assessment processes, inspectors will have access to pupil progress and attainment data, as well as other data relating to behaviour such as exclusion numbers, etc. These will be presented ahead of the inspection in an Inspection Data Summary Report (IDSR). For more information on what these look you can refer to our recent blogs relating to primary and secondary IDSRs.

Ofsted will continue to pilot the new framework with approximately 200 inspections planned before September 2019, so that the methodology detailed above continues to be refined.

For more information the new Ofsted framework and the corresponding inspection handbooks please see their website. Further information on the consultation undertaken can also be found there.

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