Friday Update – 19 June 2015

This week I highlight the publication of Ofsted’s new Common Inspection Framework which will come into effect from September, increased responsibilities for Regional Schools Commissioners and announcements from the Education Minister regarding the English Baccalaureate (EBacc) and the establishment of a working group to look at behaviour in the classroom.

On Monday Ofsted’s Chief Inspector Sir Michael Wilshaw launched the new ‘common inspection framework’ (CIF) which will come into effect from September. The main changes outlined in his speech were:

  • Emphasis on leadership as part of new inspection criteria;
  • ‘Good’ schools to be inspected every 3 years;
  • Plans to set-up a scrutiny committee in each of Ofsted’s regions to assess and rule on the internal reviews of complaints about inspection;
  • Head Teachers who have played a ‘key role’ in turning around other institutions will receive a letter acknowledging their leadership as ‘exceptional’, which will also be sent to the Education Secretary.

Sir Michael indicated Her Majesty’s Inspectors (HMIs) principal task when they visited good schools was to determine whether the leadership team, including governors, had the capacity not only to maintain existing standards but to improve them further. He also gave examples of the kinds of questions HMIs will ask during these new inspections as follows:

  • Have the leaders got a grip on the institution? Do they fully understand its strengths and weaknesses?
  • Have they communicated their strategy for raising standards to the key stakeholders?
  • Are they focussed on what really benefits children and young people, rather than wasting their time endlessly preparing for an Ofsted inspection which could be years away?
  • Do they refuse to accept excuses for underachievement and are they prepared to go the extra mile to compensate for family background?
  • Are they simply presiders over the status quo, content to take the path of least resistance or are they prepared to challenge staff and students to do better?
  • Have they built, or are they developing, a culture that is calm, orderly and aspirational?
  • Are they, for example, people who tolerate scrappy worksheets? Or are they people who insist that children should have good materials to work with?

On Monday, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Schools, Lord Nash sent a letter to all Directors of Children’s services informing them he had delegated decision-making on tackling under-performance in local authority maintained schools, through sponsored academy arrangements to Regional School Commissioners (RSCs). From 1 July 2015 formal decisions on who is the most appropriate sponsor and levels of funding will now be taken by the RSCs on behalf of the Secretary of State.

On Tuesday the Education Minister, Nicky Morgan, visited King Solomon Academy in London and announced changes to the English Baccalaureate (EBacc) and the establishment of a working group to look at behaviour in the classroom.

The old grading system of A* to U is already being replaced with a new scale of 9 to 1 and the Minister confirmed that for the new GCSEs that start being taught this September, a ‘good pass’ will be set at a grade 5. That’s at the top of the current grade C and the bottom of the current grade B.

The Minister also announced that Tom Bennett, a renowned behaviour expert, had agreed to chair a working group to look at behaviour content in training for new teachers building on the best evidence about what works to help them manage classrooms and manage behaviour.