OFSTED Inspection Handbook – a draft for consultation

The draft OFSTED Inspection framework is now available for review and consultation.  It is accompanied by a consultation document which asks for an approval rating and comments on several of the proposed changes to what and how future inspections will be carried out. For mainstream schools they are:-

  • the proposal to introduce a ‘quality of education’ judgement and looking at outcomes in context and whether they are the result of a coherently planned curriculum, delivered well
  • the proposal to separate inspection judgements about learners’ personal development and learners’ behaviour and attitudes
  • the proposal to ensure that the quality of educational judgements in early years will work well for all those working in different settings
  • the proposal to increase the length of section 8 inspections for some schools from the current one day to two days
  • the proposal for on-site preparation for all section 5 inspections and for section 8 inspections of good schools on the afternoon prior to the inspection
  • the proposal that inspectors will not look at non-statutory internal progress and attainment data

The curriculum is at the heart of the changes. We have seen throughout the build up to the announcement today how schools across the spectrum need to have a very clear rationale for their curriculum plan, know that this will be translated into a cohesive and substantive curriculum for learning and will have an impact on progression and achievement.

The Curriculum is the substance of what is taught

There is clarification that knowledge and skills are closely interconnected and inspectors will be asked to consider what providers are doing to develop both learners’ knowledge and their skills. It is also recognised that education providers may take different approaches to the curriculum and should have some freedom to choose their own approaches to content and delivery.

The school’s curriculum is coherently planned and sequenced towards cumulatively sufficient knowledge and skills for future learning…

The emphasis is on coherence and sequence in relation to curriculum planning so that pupils build on what has been taught before and focuses on building a learning platform that leads towards clearly defined end points. There should be logical progress, which is systematically and explicitly defined for all pupils in order that they acquire the intended knowledge and skills.

The school’s curriculum is strong. Across the school, it is evident from what teachers do that they have a firm and common understanding of the school’s curriculum intent and what it means for their practice.

Inspectors will look for a holistic approach that does not separate leadership of the curriculum from the implementation, the teaching and the assessment.  Assessing the impact of effective curriculum design will be through dialogue with curriculum and subject leaders and observations and reviews of pupils in lessons and the work they produce.

Teachers and leaders use assessment well, for example to help pupils embed and use knowledge fluently, or to check understanding and inform teaching.

School, curriculum and subject leaders must have the expertise to drive and deliver this change and be able to articulate how their rationale delivers a well-constructed curriculum that is expertly taught and leads to good results at the end of the relevant stage of education.  Leaders must be able to share how they know that the curriculum is having an impact for all pupils.

Teachers have a good knowledge of the subject(s) and courses they teach. Leaders provide effective support for those teaching outside their main areas of expertise.

Within the text published today there is reinforcement that OFSTED want to see this as an evolution and not a revolution and are looking for school, curriculum and subject leaders to begin to work towards the changes they need to make over time.  There is a recognition that a lot of what currently is delivered is good, however, some change is inevitable to strengthen and enrich the curriculum in terms of the rationale, the delivery and the impact it has on knowledge, skills and ultimate progression for all learners.

Inspectors will look at how carefully leaders and subject leaders have thought about what end points the curriculum is building towards, what pupils will be able to know and to do at the end of these points and how they have planned the curriculum accordingly?

We will incorporate any new messages from today’s announcements into our coaching and training programmes.  However, we have followed this so carefully over time that we feel that what is included echoes our own expertise and understanding.  We can support schools and colleges from early years to post 16 with a wealth of knowledge and are hugely excited at the opportunity to support these changes. Join us at one of our curriculum events.

Follow our news-posts on our website and have a look at some of our other courses that will ensure staff across the school have the right expertise to manage change.

Transition is an important aspect of creating the coherence and sequencing of learning over time, we have two courses that will support transition managers working between KS1 and 2 and KS 2 and 3.

Leading these changes will be challenging and we would recommend our Leading a Coaching School course which will deepen those leadership skills that empower others to manage change. The role of the middle leader especially for curriculum and subject leaders and Heads of Teaching and Learning is pivotal in driving this forward. Join us for our Coaching for Middle Leaders course and learn and focus on how to create the professional dialogue and positive outcomes that will deliver a seamless curriculum.