Ofsted has recently launched a consultation on its new school inspection framework, which is due to come into force in January 2012. Ofsted’s proposals include:
- Much more inspector time will be spent in the classroom observing teaching and learning and speaking to pupils, although inspection visits will be of the same length as now.
- There will be a special focus on the teaching of reading in primary schools. Inspectors may ask to hear some pupils read.
- More emphasis will be placed on pupil attainment and rates of progress when evaluating achievement.
- CVA will no longer be used; instead inspection data will be based on the progress pupils have made since joining the school. Inspectors will look at contextual information but this will not form part of the mathematical formulae used for Raiseonline.
- Schools which have previously been judged to be “outstanding” will no longer be routinely inspected. Their performance will be monitored via data.
- The circumstances in which “satisfactory” schools will be subject to interim monitoring visits will be extended considerably to include test/exam results which are “volatile” or below floor standards; three consecutive “satisfactory” inspection judgements; and a “worrying level” of parental complaints.
- The time scales for monitoring inspections/full re-inspection for schools in special measures and with a notice to improve have been shortened by almost half.
The NUT has serious concerns about some of these proposals. The reduction of areas for inspection, from 27 to just four, will make it even harder for schools in challenging circumstances to do well, if their test and examination results do not match up to the expected norms. Observation is the most contested area of inspection judgement for members currently, as inspectors may spend less than 10 minutes observing. These problems will almost certainly increase under the new arrangements.
Most importantly, inspection will still be punitive and high-stakes for schools, teachers and head teachers, rather than developmental and supportive. While teachers understand the need for accountability, school evaluation is at its most effective when school communities understand its purpose and relevance. Sadly, the new inspection arrangements are likely to increase the perception that schools need to put on a performance for the inspectors.
All members are encouraged to respond to the Ofsted consultation, which can be viewed here. The consultation ends on Friday 20 May 2011.
Members can also give their views on Ofsted’s proposals directly to the NUT by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
A summary of the NUT’s policy on school evaluation and its proposals for an alternative system is available here.
Further information, advice and guidance on Ofsted inspections is available in the Education and Equalities section of this website.