Friday Update – 2 October 2015

This week I highlight preparations you can make for Ofsted inspection, publication of new Ofsted Inspection Dashboards, a reminder on the revised timetable for the consultation and determination of Admissions arrangements for 2017 and notification on updated guidance on handling complaints in schools.

Is your school anticipating inspection this academic year and are you prepared for when the call comes? Have you identified a small number of Governors who will meet with the Inspection team and have you thought about what the inspectors might ask?

I reported on the new edition of the Ofsted Inspection Handbook in the first Friday Update this term and now draw your attention in particular to the section on governance (page 40, point 145):

‘Inspectors will consider whether Governors:

  • work effectively with leaders to communicate the vision, ethos and strategic direction of the school and develop a culture of ambition
  • provide a balance of challenge and support to leaders, understanding the strengths and areas needing improvement at the school
  • provide support for an effective headteacher or are hindering school improvement because of a lack of understanding of the issues facing the school
  • understand how the school makes decisions about teachers’ salary progression and performance
  • performance manage the headteacher rigorously
  • understand the impact of teaching, learning and assessment on the progress of pupils currently in the school
  • ensure that assessment information from leaders provides governors with sufficient and accurate information to ask probing questions about outcomes for pupils
  • ensure that the school’s finances are properly managed and can evaluate how the school is using the pupil premium and the primary PE and sport premium
  • are transparent and accountable, including in recruitment of staff, governance structures, attendance at meetings and contact with parents.’

From a data perspective there are new Ofsted Inspection Dashboards now available to download from RAISEonline. These are different to the existing Ofsted School Data Dashboards, which show a brief overview of each school’s performance data and are publicly available on Ofsted’s website.

Each Inspection Dashboard is only accessible to the school it concerns. It’s primarily aimed at inspectors undertaking the new short inspections of ‘good’ schools, and features charts showing some of the headline data from RAISEonline. Whilst they only include 2014 data currently, they will be updated once the 2015 data is available and for primary schools this should be mid-October and for secondary schools the end of November.

When we determined Admissions arrangements for 2016, back in the Spring term last academic year, I advised that the timetable for consulting on and determining Admissions arrangements for 2017 had been brought forward as part of the new Admissions Code. I’ve been in touch with the LA’s Access Manager and she will be advising schools of the process for 2017 in the next couple of weeks.

In the meantime key points to be aware of:

  • Admission authorities must consult when admission arrangements are changed or if they have not been consulted on within the last 7 years – the minimum consultation period is 6 weeks and should take place between 1 October and 31 January;
  • schools must determine their admission arrangements by 28 February (previously 15 April);
  • Admission authorities must send a copy of their determined admission arrangements to the LA by 15 March (previously 1 May);
  • the deadline for objections to the Schools Adjudicator is now 15 May (previously 30 June).

Depending on when your Governing body meetings are scheduled in the Spring term we may need to delegate the determination of your Admissions arrangements to your Admissions Committees.

The Department for Education (DfE) has confirmed it’s currently working on a toolkit on handling complaints in schools, which will include guidance on best practice. Whilst most of you will have already adopted the LA’s guidance it will be interesting to see what DfE has come up with in January 2016 when the toolkit is scheduled for publication.