OFSTED September 2015-A New Hope?

OFSTED September 2015-A New Hope?

This is a very brief post about my initial thoughts on the new OFSTED Framework announced yesterday.

Much has been made on social media regarding yesterday’s announcement from OFSTED about changes to the inspection framework. OFSTED has had many critics in recent years and I would count myself as one of them. I have, however, been genuinely impressed in recent months with those at the top of OFSTED trying to listen to the profession in a bid to improve the organisation. Yesterday’s announcement contains the most fundamental shift in the inspection process since the inception of OFSTED and is premised on a number of key features:

  • There is a change in the focus of areas that schools will be judged on: Overall effectiveness, Effectiveness of Leadership and Management, Personal development, behaviour and welfare, Quality of Teaching, Learning and Assessment and Outcomes for pupils.
  • Inspections of most schools will be more frequent but shorter.
  • Good schools will be visited once every 3 years and by 1 or 2 inspectors who will go in with the presumption that the school is still good.
  • There will be an independent ‘scrutiny committee’ which will rule on inspection complaints.
  • OFSTED hope to have 7 out of 10 inspectors will be serving practitioners.

There is still a significant amount of detail in the actual inspection framework that I intend to spend the next week or so digesting. These, on first look, seem like very positive changes.

A brief glance at the framework, however, and looking comments on social media still leave me with the following issues:

  • Despite Sir Michael’s comments over the last couple of years, at a school level OFSTED hasn’t changed. I’ve no doubt people like Sir Michael and Sean Harford do want change but at an operational level on inspections OFSTED haven’t changed.
  • The inspections will still be carried out, in the main, by those people who carried out inspections previously. Far too many Additional Inspectors (AIs) have no experience of leading schools, leading departments and have been out the classroom for a significant amount of time. They have no concept of what effective teaching, behaviour management or data scrutiny looks like so how can they judge it? Whilst I applaud the desire to have 7 out of every 10 inspectors as serving professionals, this will take a long time to take effect into the system and so we are back to the start again-little trust in those carrying out the inspections.
  • There isn’t an independent complaints procedure. This isn’t going to fill the profession with hope-after all surely only an independent review body can ensure that all complaints are investigated properly, openly and fairly.

I guess we will have to wait and see how these changes map out over the coming days and weeks but I am not sure that this new OFSTED approach and framework does provide us with ‘A New Hope’.

I have blogged previously about my approach to OFSTED as a Headteacher and on that front, nothing changes. We have to lead the schools for the children and families we serve and we must relentlessly strive to do everything we can to give them the best opportunities possible. School leaders need to focus on that and nothing else.

I’ll finish this brief post by quoting from two people who sum up my thoughts on this matter perfectly. Firstly, a tweet from Mike Cameron (@mikercameron):

‘It’s helpful to remember that the OFSTED Inspection Handbook is a guide as to how to inspect a school, not a guide to how to run a school.’

Finally, a tweet from Chris Moyse (@ChrisMoyse):

‘I am still of the opinion that if you do the right things right, you’ll find inspection fine’

School leaders everywhere should focus on their schools and getting it right for their students and not spend too much time worrying if this new inception of OFSTED is the ‘new hope’.