Framework criticism is just 'small and vocal minority', claims defiant Spielman

The criticism of Ofsted’s new inspection framework is solely down to a “small and vocal minority”, Amanda Spielman will claim this weekend, as the government prepares to intervene in matters.

The chief inspector will tell ResearchED Birmingham that “feedback from many directions is telling us that the inspections are nearly always working well” with schools “overwhelmingly” positive.

Overwhelmingly the schools who have been inspected are positive about it

The claims will surprise, and be hotly-contested, by many in the sector. They come after substantial criticism from school and academy trust leaders over Ofsted’s new framework.

That includes influential academy trusts, such as the Harris Federation and Outwood Grange, who say the new focus on curriculum, rather than outcomes, is punishing disadvantaged pupils.

Schools Week has been told education secretary Gavin Williamson is set to intervene in the matter. A draft letter from Williamson, and a response from Spielman, have been shared between the departments. Downing Street will have to sign off the letter before publication, Schools Week was told.

But Spielman will say on Saturday: “We do know there is a small – and vocal – minority who don’t like the new model, or who haven’t been happy with their experience of it or with their outcome.

“But overwhelmingly the schools who have been inspected are positive about it.”

However, some headteachers have even called on their colleagues to stop working as Ofsted inspectors under the “Pause Ofsted” campaign amid the new framework fallout.

Spielman will also bat away concerns, claiming the HMI recruitment pipeline is the “strongest it has been for a very long time, in terms of both quantity and quality”.

She said the call “doesn’t seem to have prompted a single resignation that we can find, nor are we noticing people reducing their commitment”.

However, Schools Week knows of at least four inspectors who say they have stepped away from doing regular inspections.

The chief inspector will say there have been “a few wrinkles and teething issues – among several thousand inspections, how could there not be – but we take all feedback very seriously, and work fast to address issues, as for example we did back in September to sort out a problem that was flagged up for small primary schools”.

Schools Week understands the chief inspector will also use her speech to school leaders’ union ASCL’s annual conference next week to tackle criticism of the framework “head-on”, while also addressing how implementation of the framework is being refined in light of feedback.