A guide to the new Ofsted Framework

Written by: HTU | Published:

With the new Ofsted Inspection Framework due to come into effect from January 2012, we take a look at what's in and what's out.

With the new Ofsted Inspection Framework due to come into effect from January 2012, we take a look at what's in and what's out.

What's in (or increased)

- Teaching – it is top of the pile.
- Observations – the focus is in the classroom.
- The achievement of different groups.
- Achievement in reading – inspectors will look at test results, school records and evaluate the level of reading themselves.
- Outcomes for pupils who have been excluded.
- Liaison with alternative providers.
- The overall picture of behaviour in the school when inspectors are not there.
- The views of pupils, parents and staff.
- Tackling extremism.
What's out (or reduced/amalgamated)

These are no longer judgements or sub-judgements in their own right:

- Community cohesion.
- ECM outcomes.
- Pupil equality.
- Safeguarding.
- Engagement with parents.
- Partnerships.
- Deployment of resources.
- Governors.
- Foundation stage or the sixth form.
- CVA.
- Attainment.
- The capacity to improve.
- Spiritual, Moral, Social and Cultural Development.
- The curriculum.
- Care, guidance and support.

This does not necessarily mean they are completely absent from the new schedule. Governors are still to be inspected but are once more within the leadership and management section and the “overall effectiveness" judgement takes account of how the school promotes the pupils' spiritual, moral, social and cultural (SMSC) development.

Limiting judgements have been removed – these were the ones such as equality and safeguarding that meant a poor result would place a ceiling on your overall judgement. The prominence of safeguarding is very much reduced. It is mentioned in reference to recruitment and child protection under “leadership and management" and feeling safe comes under the “behaviour and safety" judgement.

There is one, single judgement on leadership and management. There will be fewer discussions with middle managers and where the headteacher is involved in an observation the inspector may observe his or her feedback to the teacher. This is one way in which inspectors will judge the school's own self-evaluation processes.

Some advice

Even without the SEF, self-evaluation is as important as ever. You still need a summary document or statement that identifies your strengths and weaknesses and what you are doing to improve. Although you can tailor this to your school's needs you should be meticulous, particularly in relation to any weak areas.

Safeguarding may not be as prominent in the judgements but inspectors will still be looking at your single central record and expect CRB checks to be rigorously carried out. You should still prepare some case studies of vulnerable children. Inspectors will be keen to track the work that schools have done in supporting them.

Take note of the detail provided around risk and bullying. The outline guidance stipulates that pupils should be able to respond to the risk of:

- Extremism.
- New technology.
- Substance misuse.
- Knives and gangs.
- Relationships.
- Water.
- Fire.
- Roads and railways.

Freedom from bullying must encompass:

- Cyber-bullying
- Prejudice-based bullying, including that relating to: SEN, sexual orientation, sex race, religion and belief, gender reassignment, and disability.

Next steps for those expecting an inspection

- Rearrange your evidence under the four new judgements.
- Slim down and trim your SEF according to the new schedule but be just as ready to provide the evidence of what you are doing to tackle any weaknesses and what the impact is.
- Look closely at the outline guidance for each judgement in the Ofsted handbook, The draft evaluation schedule for the inspection of maintained schools and academies. It is available from www.ofsted.gov.uk
- Break down the grade descriptors into the different components – e.g. the bullying part of “behaviour and safety" – and decide with your school leadership team what is the best fit for your school.
- Look at the grade descriptor above where you are (if there is one) and identify what you would need to do to move up a notch.
- Update your staff and governors on the changes they can expect to see.

Two Ofsted health warnings

- It is likely to become even harder to be outstanding. The grade descriptors were rewritten several times during the pilot inspections to make sure that the top judgement was more difficult to achieve.
- There has been significant concern expressed about the launch of the Parent View website (pictured). Perhaps rather than waiting for the inevitable comments from a handful of dissatisfied parents, it might be worth encouraging supportive parents to post their comments first.

Any new schedule attracts anxiety and apprehension. Schools will need to have confidence in the good work they are doing and the vision they have set for themselves with their communities.

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