“We hope that these changes will enable Ofsted inspections to become supportive and developmental rather than clinical and punitive.”

15 Jun

Update: 15 June 2015

Ofsted’s announcement on changes to inspection from September 2015.  The changes and documents.

Voice has been concerned about issues of inconsistency and unreliability affecting Ofsted so we welcome the common framework and hope that it will introduce a fairer and more consistent  inspection regime.

We also hope that these changes will enable Ofsted inspections to become supportive and developmental rather than clinical and punitive.

Do let us know your views…

3 February 2015

Ofsted inspections should be “supportive and developmental rather than clinical and punitive”

Ofsted announces inspection changes

Voice’s response

Let us know your views…

10 December 2014:

On the day that Ofsted published its Annual Report 2013/14 (see comments below), Voice published its Official Response (pdf) to Ofsted’s Better inspection for all – consultation on proposals for a new framework for the inspection of schools, further education and skills providers and registered early years settings.

In its response, Voice commented:

Introduction of a new Common Inspection Framework

“We agree that a common framework should be used to assess those aspects of educational provision which are available to learners of similar age and level of development. 

“Outside of the framework, it would be necessary to harmonise the method of inspection as it would be inappropriate to have, for example, school sixth forms and FE colleges inspected by differing numbers of inspectors or over differing time periods merely because of the setting. 

“It would also be important that, as well as having setting-specific handbooks, phase, setting and subject-specific inspectors would be needed to ensure tailored validity and reliability of judgements.  

“Whilst consistency of approach is important, differences between settings need to be taken into account.  There is a particular concern about whether the proposed inspection framework would meet the needs of childminders and other registered early years settings, where much of the learning is play-based and balanced with social care, with equal parity being given to both.”

Making judgements in full inspections

It may be worth considering the capacity of a provider to offer a particular type and size of curriculum, and whether caution may be needed when making comparisons between providers

“For example, large secondary schools with sixth forms could be expected to offer a wider range of courses and qualifications than small, rural 11-16 centres. 

The focus should be on the extent to which the curriculum meets the needs of learners

In some cases, a broader choice may disadvantage learners.  Settings are often able to effect positive change in the local and wider communities in which they are situated, in which case it may be counter-productive to focus solely on local community needs. 

“In some cases, the criteria imply implausible causal links.  For example, it is highly dubious to assume that ‘rigorous performance management’ and ‘appropriate professional development’ are the only (or even the best) means of improving teaching and learning. 

“This would certainly not be the case in many early years registered settings (particular childminders, which cannot be expected to operate as ‘mini nurseries’) and neither would it be true for many other settings. 

The emphasis on British values may be contentious as it could be argued that these are not exclusive to British culture. The focus should be on universal human values.” 

The ‘outcomes for children and learners’ judgement

Providers must be given the opportunity to present the latest data to be scrutinised by the inspection team.  Data from exams and RaiseOnline may be out of date or lacking clarity on specific details. 

“This is especially important if inspectors are to take account of ‘current progress’ as this may not have been recorded formally at the time of the visit but is, thereby, no less valid. 

Care should be taken when judging the relevance of age-related standards, as these are unrealistic and inappropriate for many learners with special educational needs and are particularly dubious for early years settings, where the range of normal development can be very broad.”

Specific additional judgements

It is most important that inspectors are phase-specific and specialists for the particular settings and subjects under inspection

“It is no use deploying a sixth form geography specialist to inspect PMLD provision in a special school. 

“Special attention needs to be given to this in order to restore confidence in the inspection process by ensuring that inspectors  have the specific and specialist skills, experience and expertise relevant to the particular setting being inspected.”

A graded judgement for the quality of the curriculum

“Consideration should be given to a provider’s capacity to offer a curriculum of a particular size or type so that fair comparisons can be made.  What is most important is that the curriculum is broad, balanced, relevant, motivating and appropriate.”

Short inspections

Regular feedback is a proven method of sustaining improvement and is widespread in its use in education settings to promote pupil progress and improve the quality of teaching and learning.  Therefore, it is reasonable to assume that regular feedback through the increased frequency of short inspections could benefit all providers.

Care must be taken, however, to ascertain what should happen where a provider has deviated from being ‘good’.

“If a setting which has been identified as no longer good has a longer period of time to prepare for a full inspection, this could lead to increased workload, anxiety and stress, and the potential for staff illness and accusations of bullying by senior leaders who are determined to restore the status quo before the full inspection. 

“Similarly, what impetus is there for good schools to improve if that would result in two inspections – an initial short one followed by a full inspection at some indeterminate time in the future? 

“It would be better to extend the inspection in both cases, so that the full inspection proceeds naturally from the short inspection where necessary.”

Short inspections of good further education and skills providers

“Our response to the previous question is also applicable here.  It would be prudent to avoid multiple inspections by ensuring that short inspections lead immediately into full inspections where the evidence deems this to be necessary.”

Inspection methodology

It would be helpful if every Ofsted team were to comprise at least two inspectors, even for single childminder inspections, as this would reduce the potential for bias caused by personality clashes or individual subjectivity. 

“This would also allow for the lead inspector to prepare and discussion any pre-inspection evidence with the setting’s head or other nominee, whilst the other inspector could arrive with a tabula rasa and observe with no pre-conceived notions.”

Other comments

It is essential that Ofsted inspections are supportive and developmental rather than clinical and punitive. 

“It is also essential to remove any suggestion of inconsistency or unreliability.  The individual context of a particular setting should always be taken into account

It would be helpful to have a 12-week timescale to respond to consultations.  This would enable representative groups to liaise more widely with their members and give more time for responses to be carefully considered and collated.”

Do let us know your thoughts… 


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2 Responses to ““We hope that these changes will enable Ofsted inspections to become supportive and developmental rather than clinical and punitive.””

  1. Richard Fraser 11. Dec, 2014 at 10:58 am #

    General Secretatry Deborah Lawson on BBC Radio Derby 01:39:00 talking about Ofsted’s Annual Report: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p02cf8fs

    The focus of these reports tends to be on the negatives not the positives.

    “We have seen some positive improvement nationally.

    “Ofsted inspections should be supportive and developmental of schools and of teachers, not clinical and punitive. They should not be a tick-box exercise. It’s not all about data.

    “It’s difficult to say that the fault lies in any one place, and you have to include Ofsted in that list.

    “There are other things that affect the education of pupils that happen outside the school gate… income deprivation…difficulties some schools are facing… whole raft of things.. changes to the Ofsted regime, the curriculum, exams…are we comparing apples and oranges…majority of teachers and school leaders want to do their best…recruitment down…fewer teachers wanting to go into leadership because of the Ofsted fear factor.. [focus on] what Ofsted wants rather than focusing the extent to which the curriculum meets the needs of their learners…”

  2. Richard Fraser 20. Mar, 2015 at 4:39 pm #

    “British values ‘a tough call’ for inspectors – Ofsted” (BBC): http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-31991767

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