Response to Ofsted’s Draft Education Inspection Framework

The following Executive Summary has been produced by Headteachers Roundtable in Response to Ofsted Draft Education Inspection Framework.  We’re interested in people’s thoughts which can be sent to headteachersrt@hotmail.co.uk; we’ll read them all but it is unlikely we will be able to respond (apologies in advance).    

Executive Summary

The Draft Education Inspection Framework and associated handbook does not currently support the development of an inspection system that is intelligent, responsible and focused or capable of supporting school improvement.

  1. The support for certain curricula, within the inspection handbook, in particular the proposed implementation of the Ebacc, shows a lack of independence by the inspectorate and no evidential base. The Ebacc and new content heavy GCSE syllabi are limiting the range and balance of subjects studied and the completion of GCSE in two years; there is no recognition of this in the draft inspection framework or handbook.
  2. Whilst the inspection handbook refers to a broad curriculum or broad range of subjects on nine separate occasions only once does it refer to a balanced curriculum. The support for the aesthetic aspect of the curriculum and the creative arts will be further undermined if this framework is implemented.
  3. The juxtaposition between promotion of certain subject based curricula with the generic intent, implementation and impact is confused and unhelpful particularly when set against academy freedoms. The inspection handbook appears less applicable in an Early Years or Specialist School setting.
  4. The proposed separation of inspection judgements about learners’ personal development and learners’ behaviour and attitudes; increased tariff for the Section 8 inspections, of good schools and non-exempt outstanding schools, and no notice inspections lack merit and a coherent rationale.
  5. Proposals not to look at non-statutory internal progress and attainment data are understandable but not sensible. Work scrutiny has limitations that will lead to the same issues of unreliability that Ofsted is seeking to address through its current proposals.
  6. The tone and content of the handbook is unacceptable, in part, particularly with respect to leadership; this raises concerns about its development, the lack of engagement with the wider profession during its writing and the likelihood of inconsistent and idiosyncratic implementation.
  7. Safeguarding should be removed from the inspection framework and be externally audited as part of an on-going continuous improvement process.
  8. Given the adverse impact of inspection on workload and recruitment & retention of staff, lack of efficacy for a number of “stuck schools” and absence of independent empirical evidence to support the four point grading system; full consideration should now be given to moving to a no grading inspection system with a narrative style report on a school’s strengths and areas to develop.

The proposals from Ofsted include most of the demands of the current framework plus additional elements.  The implementation of this draft inspection framework, as currently proposed, will add significantly to workload, at a time the Department for Education’s Recruitment & Retention Strategy is promising a period of stability.

Prior to a far ranging review of the accountability system, including the current narrow use of metrics within performance tables, it would be preferable to adapt the current inspection framework.

A downloadable version of our summary is here; please feel free to share it with others as you determine how you wish to respond:

HTRT Draft Response to Ofsted Inspection Framework – For Comment

We are preparing a response to the various questions asked in the consultation; our current view is that we are likely to disagree or strongly disagree with all of the proposals in their consultation. This is pretty much the same as the response the NAHT has circulated to members.  The only difference is we can see little merit in splitting behaviour and personal development and so will disagree with that proposal also.

This is an excellent document prepared by the NAHT giving its response:

NAHT – Ofsted Consultation Guide

ASCL has also released a draft for members to comment on.  We are fully supportive of their concern and proposals about the tone of the handbook and the use of internal data.  We support their concerns about the EBacc but believe the first part of their proposal, to remove reference to the EBacc altogether, is the only means of obtaining the clarity schools require.  ASCL’s concerns about the on-site preparation (no-notice inspection) and proposal to remove it does not however lead us to conclude that an increase to a two day Section 8 inspection (currently the one day short inspection) is warranted or justified.

ASCL’s strong response to Ofsted’s draft Framework is here:

ASCL – Ofsted Consultation Provisional Response

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