OFSTED Consultation – my two pennies worth

So I took the time to complete the consultation.  I may have got a little more heated as the consultation went on.  But, I am more than happy, like the vast majority of colleagues, to talk about this.  But, it is time that OFSTED listened.

If you are a senior leader and want to be part of a positive group looking to change how policy is delivered to schools, rather than with schools, please get in touch with @headsroundtable


Q1. Do you agree or disagree with the introduction of a new common inspection framework for maintained schools, academies, further education and skills providers, non-association independent schools and registered early years settings from September 2015?

The issue IS consistency, because too many inspectors don’t know or understand the setting that they are inspecting.  Actually thinking about what needs to be inspected and having specialist inspectors for each phase makes sense to me.  How do you judge progress in a yoga class in an FE in comparison to observing 3 years olds talk about a painting.

Q2. Do you agree or disagree with the proposed ‘effectiveness of leadership and management’ judgement (paragraphs 19-20)?

Considering how aligned all the other grades are to overall effectiveness. I cannot see the point of separate grades.  This is actually where the inspectorate being more school improvement partner could have an effect.  If a school’s overall judgement is RI or lower, the separate headings could have the starting points of an action plan to enable the school to work towards improvement.  These should be specific and meaningful to the school and not a set of generic statements.

Q3. Do you agree or disagree with the proposed ‘quality of teaching, learning and assessment’ judgement (paragraph 21)?

This is impossible to judge in a one day or two-day inspection.  You can only scratch the surface and make superficial judgements in a short time span.  Go to one class, speak to a few students, look at a few books and the outcome for the school can be completely different than had you gone to a different class, spoken to different students etc.  Too many inspections I have been involved in, become a battle over what the SLT see day in and day out and what an inspection team see in a few hours.

Q4. Do you agree or disagree with the proposed ‘personal development, behaviour and welfare’ judgement (paragraphs 22-23)?

see my comments to the question above.

Q5. Do you agree or disagree with the proposed ‘outcomes for children and learners’ judgement (paragraph 24)?

I strongly disagree if this judgement is skewed by disadvantaged pupils closing the gap.  Especially while we have that judgement based on 5A*toC inc.  It is also skewed by the majority of schools having relatively small cohorts (see John Dunford presentation – Using the Pupil Premium to narrow the gap: policy and practice which shows 6 of the deciles have below 13.2%).

Q6. Do you agree or disagree with the specific additional judgements proposed for the common inspection framework (paragraphs 28-31)?

this is a little going round in circles…they should be judged separately, yes, as they were.  I am confused as to the impact if one area is found to be significantly different in judgement to the others

Q7. Do you agree or disagree that Ofsted should continue to report on the curriculum as part of the judgement on leadership and management?

again going round in circles, because it was…this will create an “ofsted” specified curriculum

Q8. Do you agree or disagree with the proposals for short inspections of good maintained schools and academies (paragraphs 32-34 and 37-40)?

This begs the question of why bother at all if you are looking at the data and find that there has been no significant drop in performance.  Also, like this year’s attainment, in the future,  if similar changes happen to the examination series so that you cannot judge one year’s against another, how will you know that performance has dipped?

Q9. Do you agree or disagree with the proposals for short inspections of good further education and skills providers (paragraphs 35-36 and 41-45)?

see q8

Q10. Do you agree or disagree with the proposals for the inspection of non-association independent schools?

Seems a tidying up exercise.  Not sure why you need to inspect a private concern at all.  Why are you using taxpayers money to ensure the education of students outside of the maintained sector?  If parents want the choice of a school that can be judged by Her Government’s Inspectorate they should attend a state school.

Q11. Are there specific changes to the way that inspectors gather evidence that you think could make our judgements more reliable and robust?

  • Look at other external inspections, like peer reviews, when conducting an inspection.
  • Have your inspectors properly trained and with robust employment history.
  • Have a current HT as part of the inspection process. These should not be anyone with a vested interest in schools failing inspections (CEOs of Chains).  This HT doesn’t need to be a trained inspector, but could be an independent voice based on the experience of currently running a school.
  • Where possible have the lead inspector be part of the team that supports a school from RI or a category. They will clearly know what needs to be done and can be the advisor given to support that school.
  • Use the same team to return to a school judged RI or a category, with one additional HMI, to judge the improvements. This will avoid the inspection bias that we see (ie one inspection is led by someone who has a strong interest in SEN and the next one  is led by someone with an interest in curriculum).
  • Be very specific about the data you want and the way that you want to see it. Communicate this to all schools, as part of these changes to ofsted.  This stops the stress of trying to communicate something with an inspector who doesn’t like the way you are communicating it.
  • Be polite and courteous in a school and stop your inspectors throwing their ego around.
  • Spend time talking about the SEF and how the school came to its own judgements, rather than constantly trying to catch a school out.
  • Don’t throw bombshells into the end of day one meetings that you clearly aren’t going to find the evidence for. It doesn’t test the school;  it makes people worried about their jobs and their families.
  • Make sure judgements are based on statistically valid data. One or two students should not skew an inspection judgement.  Especially if a school can prove a clear strategy that didn’t have the impact they wanted and can explain why.
  • Throwing a school into RI because of one social group not making the same progress as another is not reliable, especially if point 10 is relevant and if the cohort’s ability does not match.
  • Q12. Do you have any other comments about this consultation?

    Please use this moment to reassess the role of ofsted in improving education of our children and not a moment to move the deckchairs.

    Ban any current inspector from being paid consultancy fees to ‘help’ schools through an inspection.


    New Accountability – thoughts and questions

    UPDATE – based on the Update on Progress 8 measure and Stuart Locks’s blog (http://mrlock.wordpress.com/2014/01/08/what-is-happening-with-the-best-8-measure/)

    Since the @headsroundtable meeting with @timleunig  I had been asking questions of what the new progress measure means to my school.  A few things I hadn’t been able to get right in my head and I couldn’t work out why.

    Over time a couple of comments and assumptions started to get me thinking about the curriculum we are about to offer students in year:

    1. The measure appears to be based on APS with the total based on the basket divided by 8 (see my assumptions below.  So if only 7 subjects count it is still divided by 8. – because of the double count the actual final will be divided by 10 (if a student completes Maths & English and 6 others that count)
    2. The calculations threw an oddity with the double count of English & maths. It appears that a student that gets 8 Cs but will count as a B (and so on in all grades) for accountability, as long as there are no Ebacc gaps – see above
    3. It does appear that @headteachers’ blog (http://headteachersroundtable.wordpress.com/2013/10/20/accountability-roundtable-october-16th/) and @RosMcM’s (http://www.labourteachers.org.uk/blog/2013/10/19/6-reasons-to-smile-about-the-new-accountability-measures-for-schools-and-academies/) blog points about lower ability students stand, as long as the student sits English Literature and passes English and maths.
    4. For student capable of gaining Cs it appears that it is better to get a student worse grades but have no gaps in the ebacc part of the basket in their best 8, than a kids better grades but a gap (ie one gets mixture of Cs and Ds but 3 grades in ebacc does better than a student with better grades but missing an ebacc).
    5. One further question.  With the matrix for progress being set by the exam results last year, will there be analysis on how much the current best eight measure is skewed by BTECs? –  the benchmark will be based on the 2016 exams so the possibility of BTECs taken last year skewing the average is removed

    What have i learnt?

    1. This is undoubtedly a better measure than 5A*toC including (or as @timleunig put it “the 5 Cs measure”)
    2. As a school it is now vital that you get as many students as possible to have their basket of courses right.  For us we will be checking post options that every student capable has three ebacc subjects to avoid any gaps.  But, apparently the straight jacket of the old ebacc has gone, as triple scientists have their three (although question marks remain on how much double science will count…or a normal curriculum choice in schools will require only one more ebacc to ensure this part of the basket has no gaps.
    3. I have concerns about the 30% of our current Year 9s that don’t have KS2 data
    4. It will be risky to only offer 8 subjects, but the new examination system may force this as the amount of end of Year 11 exams is starting to look daunting for students
    5. I am still very nervous about the dead hand of politicians getting to this
    6. The move to pariety of English Literature and Language is very welcome – especially as the better score will count for the double as English (so a student does better in Literature that becomes the english grade that counts as part of the accountability and the language grade will count in the ‘other three’.

    EDIT – @timleunig contacted me to express that the grade scores listed below had not been decided.  But, they are looking at possible replacements for the 58 for an A* and so on.  I would suggest mirroring the 1-9 that has been put forward by OFQUAL. (Update – so it was 1 -9 then!)

    EDIT – I removed the calculations as they are clearly wrong!
    Continue reading “New Accountability – thoughts and questions”