Ofsted - news rules for schools

At a conference to headteachers, early years professionals and college principals back in June, Sir Michael Wilshaw announced that as of September 2015, a new inspection framework for Ofsted inspectors would take effect.  It is called the Common Inspection Framework (or CIF), and will be used during all Ofsted inspections going forward for all of the education services which Ofsted inspects, including non-association independent schools. 

What does this mean for schools now it is here?

Firstly, the areas that Ofsted will look at are:

  • Overall effectiveness
  • The quality of teaching, learning and assessment
  • The effectiveness of leadership and management (the curriculum will be inspected as part of this area)
  • Personal development, behaviour and welfare
  • Outcomes for children and learners
  • The effectiveness of early years and sixth form provision (where it applies)

So far, nothing particularly groundbreaking – these are all areas that we would expect (and hope) that inspectors would look at.

However, if your school has been judged ‘good’ at its last inspection, the next inspection could be quite different for you.  Instead of the current system, “short” inspections will take place around every three years.

Short inspections will last only for one day and be led by one or two inspectors (bigger teams will be used for further education colleges).  Individual graded judgements will not be given, and no changes in grade for “overall effectiveness” will be made.  The idea is that Ofsted’s starting point will be that you are still “good”, with a focus on making sure that your standards have been maintained.

At the conference, Sir Wilshaw praised excellent leaders in education, and felt that there should be an atmosphere “in which honest, challenging, professional dialogue can take place” – he does not want leaders to have anything to fear from being realistic and open with inspectors, hoping that they are able to identify “any weaknesses in their provision – as well as strengths – based on their own evaluation”.  In these inspections, Ofsted will be checking that leaders have identified key areas of concern and that they have the capacity, ability and a plan to deal with them.

A full inspection may be triggered if inspectors believe that a change of grade may be necessary, or where they feel that more evidence is necessary to confirm the main judgement. In that case, the visit will convert to a full inspection and continue, usually for an additional day.

Outstanding schools (other than special schools, PRUs and maintained nursery schools) will continue to be exempt from the usual routine of inspections, but Ofsted can inspect if it is noted that performance has declined or where other concerns are raised.

If a copy of the new separate inspection handbook which applies to your establishment has not made its way to your desk yet, you can find copies on Gov.uk or you can contact Emily Brown, our Head of Education.

Emily Brown
01268 824936
​emily.brown@birkettlong.co.uk

The contents of this article are intended for general information purposes only and shall not be deemed to be, or constitute legal advice. We cannot accept responsibility for any loss as a result of acts or omissions taken in respect of this article.