Friday Update – 6 February 2015

This week Ofsted has confirmed changes to the inspection of schools that I first told you about back in October last year, I highlight new Government plans to reduce unnecessary workloads for teachers and the DfE’s withdrawal of Statutory guidance on excluding pupils.

CONFIRMATION OF CHANGES TO THE INSPECTION OF SCHOOLS FROM SEPTEMBER 2015
Ofsted has just published the results of its ‘Better Inspections for All’ consultation, and announced a number of changes to the inspection of schools which will come into force in September 2015:

  • A new Common Inspection Framework for all early years settings, maintained schools and academies, non-associations independent schools and further education and skills providers (a new inspection handbook will be published in the summer term 2015). Ofsted’s aim is to bring about greater consistency across inspections.
  • Schools and academies that were judged ‘good’ at their last full inspection will receive a short inspection approximately every three years (instead of the current full inspection every three to five years).
  • All non-association independent schools will receive an inspection under the new Common Inspection Framework within three years.

Ofsted carried out over 40 short inspection pilots in the autumn term last year and pilots are continuing this term. Explaining how these inspections will differ from full inspections, the report emphasises a focus on ensuring that standards have been maintained and providing an opportunity for professional dialogue on the schools’ strengths and weaknesses. Short inspections will not provide a full set of inspection judgements. These short inspections will also apply to special schools, pupil referral units and maintained nurseries which are judged good and outstanding – these settings are not exempt from inspections even if outstanding.

Ofsted has confirmed that the new inspection framework will have more focus on the breadth and suitability of the curriculum. Curriculum will be reported under leadership and management.

GOVERNMENT PLANS ANNOUNCED TO TACKLE UNNECCESARY TEACHER WORKLOAD
A series of measures designed to help tackle the root causes of unnecessary teacher workload were announced today by Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg and Education Secretary Nicky Morgan.

Thousands of teachers shared their experiences, ideas and solutions by taking part in the Department for Education’s consultation – the Workload Challenge survey. The survey generated more than 44,000 returns with the same themes raised by the profession as the key drivers of unnecessary and unproductive workload e.g. Ofsted and the pressure it placed on school leaders, the impact of policies from government, as well as hours spent recording data, marking and lesson-planning.

A number of commitments have been announced including:

  • commitments by Ofsted to not change their handbook or framework during the school year, except when absolutely necessary.  To keep updating their new myths and facts document stating what inspectors do and do not expect to see.  From 2016 onwards look to make the handbook shorter and simpler, so that schools can more easily understand how inspectors will reach their judgements.
  • giving schools more notice of significant changes to the curriculum, exams and accountability, and not making changes to qualifications in the academic year or during a course, unless there are urgent reasons for doing so.
  • making it easier for teachers to find examples of what works in other schools, and research about the best way to do things like marking, data management and planning by bringing together a central repository of evidence.
  • support for Headteachers to carry out their demanding jobs by reviewing all leadership training, including reviewing the opportunities available for coaching and mentoring for leaders.
  • tracking teacher workload over the coming years by carrying out a large scale, robust survey in early spring 2016, and every 2 years from then on.

REMOVAL OF STATUTORY GUIDANCE ON THE EXCLUSION OF PUPILS FROM LA MAINTAINED SCHOOLS, ACADEMIES AND PUPIL REFERRAL UNITS
The School Reform Minister Nick Gibb has removed the current Statutory guidance on exclusions, which was only issued in January, to address some issues with process. Until the new guidance is issued schools should refer to the 2012 guidance.

Although the Department for Education has not specified the reasons for taking down the guidance it is believed to stem from a legal challenge about the wording of the January 2015 guidance in relation to the ‘test’ for whether an exclusion was justified.