We’ve taken a closer look at the new Ofsted Education Inspection Framework and the School Inspection Handbook that will apply from September 2019 and have pulled out the key things that inspectors will be looking for in relation to the new judgements that are particularly relevant to secondary schools.
You can find out more about each judgement and what else has changed in the new Framework in our earlier blog post: ‘The new Ofsted Education Inspection Framework: What’s changed?’
Quality of Education
As part of the new ‘Quality of Education’ judgement, inspectors will expect a curriculum that remains as broad as possible for as long as possible, with pupils able to study a strong academic core of subjects, i.e. those offered by the EBacc. They’ll be looking out for signs of curriculum narrowing, and although they won’t judge an individual school based on its progress to towards the Government’s ambition that 75% of Year 10 pupils in state-funded mainstream schools should be starting to study EBacc GCSE courses nationally by 2022, they will take progress towards this as an important factor in assessing the school’s ambition for its pupils. This ‘ambition’ is something that’s key in the Framework’s new drive towards an ambitious curriculum that’s designed to give alllearners, particularly the most disadvantaged, the skills they need to succeed in the future.
In light of the new Framework’s strong discouragement of ‘teaching to the test’, the Handbook states that the subject curriculum should be designed and delivered in a way that allows learners to transfer key knowledge to their long-term memory. This means that the curriculum needs to be sequenced so that any new knowledge and skills build on what has been taught before, with everything working towards clearly defined end points. Likewise, assessment should be used to check students’ understanding, to inform teaching, and to help pupils embed and use their knowledge fluently, so that they’re developing their understanding, rather than simply ‘cramming’ to memorise disconnected facts.
The ‘impact’ aspect of the Quality of Education judgement will draw on first-hand evidence of how students are doing, including evidence from interviews, observations, looking at students’ work, and discussions with them about what they remember about what they’ve studied, alongside nationally generated performance information about progress and attainment.Inspectors will be using this evidence to reach a judgement on the overall quality of education on offer. Their focus will not be on one particular lesson, book or pupil, but on the connection between all of these pieces of evidence and what they together reveal about whether students are learning the curriculum and making progress in the sense of ‘knowing more, remembering more and being able to do more’. Inspectors will be looking for evidence that all learning builds towards an end point, and that learners are being prepared for what’s next, whether that’s education, training or employment.
Behaviour and Attitudes
This judgement focuses on a ‘calm and orderly’ environment in the school and classroom, in which students feel safe, and where any bullying or discrimination– whether online or offline – is dealt with quickly and effectively. Overall, inspectors are looking for high expectations when it comes to learners’ behaviour and attitudes to learning, and to see that these expectations are applied consistently and fairly.
To formulate a judgement, inspectors will speak to a range of students who have had different experiences of your school’s behaviour policy, including those who have faced its consequences. They’ll be looking out for clear routines and policies, observing students’ behaviour in a range of different classes, as well as at breaktimes, lunchtimes, and between lessons, checking for punctuality, and whether students respect each other and school staff, and have pride in the school.
This judgement places emphasis on schools’ responsibility to provide a curriculum that extends well beyond the academic, technical or vocational, and which encourages students to develop and discover their interests and talents. Your school will be judged on both the quality and the intent of its provision for personal development, through extra-curricular activities and curriculum subjects such as RE and citizenship, as well as through external schemes like the Duke of Edinburgh award.
The Handbook acknowledges that pupils are heavily influenced by factors outside of school, like their home environments and communities, and inspectors won’t try to measure the impact that your school is having on individual students, but they are interested in how you are helping students to build their confidence and resilience to prepare them for adult life and so that they can stay mentally healthy. Enabling pupils to recognise online and offline risks to their well-being, including those associated with inappropriate use of social media, gets a specific mention here. There’s also reference to the quality of debate and discussion taking place in the classroom; inspectors expect you to foster an inclusive environment, encouraging your students to understand that difference is a positive, not a negative, and that individual characteristics are what make us unique.
Leadership and Management
Although this judgement primarily evaluates the overall effectiveness of your school’s leadership team and the positive impact this has on students, it’s important to know that, as a part of this, inspectors will also be judging how your leadership team support and engage with you. In particular, they will consider how leaders help you manage your workload in a ‘realistic and constructive’ way.
Want more details?
The Ofsted Education Inspection Framework and the Ofsted School Inspection Handbook are available in full on the gov.uk website.