Some inspectors are still asking to see evidence not required by Ofsted

Written by: Pete Henshaw | Published:
Image: iStock

A call is being made for “greater consistency” in Ofsted inspections after a survey of school leaders found that schools are still being asked to provide evidence that is not officially required.

The Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL), which carried out the survey, says this is adding to the pressures on schools, especially workload.

Ofsted has been running its so-called “myth-busting” campaign for some time now in a bid to dispel some of the misconceptions schools have about what is required during inspection (see further information).

Some of these myths were again dispelled by Ofsted’s national director of education, Sean Harford, in a recent Department for Education YouTube clip focused on reducing workload.

And in its survey, involving almost 500 senior leaders of secondary schools in England, ASCL did make a number of positive findings.

Notably, nearly all respondents (98 per cent) said they were not asked for individual lesson plans, 99 per cent said inspectors had not specified how lesson planning should be set out, and 94 per cent said they were not asked for written records of oral feedback given to students – all in line with Ofsted’s guidance.

However, there are still problems with some inspectors asking for evidence they are not supposed to request.
Ofsted says that inspectors don’t require schools to predict the attainment of their pupils or their progress score, but 62 per cent of respondents said their school was asked to predict pupil attainment, and 47 per cent said they were asked for predicted progress scores.

Ofsted says it does not require extensive tracking of how pupils are doing, but 45 per cent of respondents said their school was asked to provide this information.

And Ofsted says its inspectors do not expect to see a particular frequency or quantity of work in pupils’ books, but 34 per cent of respondents said inspectors had asked to see this type of evidence.

Geoff Barton, ASCL general secretary, said: “We have to reduce unsustainable and onerous levels of workload in schools because of the impact this burden has on the welfare of staff and on teacher recruitment and retention.

“It seems as if Ofsted is making progress in ensuring that its inspection teams do not make requests for evidence in line with its own myth-busting guidance. But in certain key areas, there is clearly some way to go if Ofsted is to show the level of consistency that it would rightly expect from school leaders.

“It is essential inspections are consistent and that no school is asked to provide evidence which generates unnecessary workload. We support Ofsted’s work in dispelling the myths about what it expects to see, but we have to make sure that this is reflected in practice on the ground. We have fed back the results of this survey to Ofsted to assist in that process.”

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