Schools

Governance ‘diminished’ in new inspections, Ofsted told

National Governance Association writes to Amanda Spielman to call for 'more informative' reports

National Governance Association writes to Amanda Spielman to call for 'more informative' reports

School governors are “increasingly concerned” their work is becoming less visible in Ofsted inspections.

The National Governance Association has written to chief inspector Amanda Spielman to warn the implementation of the new inspection framework in 2019 has “led to the role of governance being diminished within the inspection process”.

The new framework introduced new, shorter inspection reports, which are supposed to be more accessible for parents.

But the NGA called for a return to a “more informative format of reports which in addition to the information for parents, would include information targeted at those responsible for school improvement, including school leaders and those governing”.

How well governors understand and carry out their role is a metric on which schools’ leadership and management is judged.

But analysis by the NGA of 120 Ofsted reports published between September and December last year found almost a third (31 per cent) did not mention governance.

Where governance is mentioned, the NGA found a “disparity between the extent to which governance is reported on”.

Governors report ‘inconsistency’ in Ofsted inspections

A survey of 111 governors and trustees also found an “inconsistency between the questions inspectors ask governing boards about the curriculum and the depth the questioning goes to”.

“Despite the quality of education having the greatest weighting of all the judgment areas, governing boards are not always asked about their role in the curriculum and the depth of these conversations differ from school to school.”

Ofsted
Spielman

In her letter to Spielman, Emma Knights (main picture), the NGA’s chief executive, said “while we applaud the principles that underpin the EIF, it is NGA’s view the format of Ofsted reports are not fit for the improvement purposes to support Ofsted’s mission to raise standards”.

“NGA asks for a return to a more informative format which in addition to the information for parents, specifically includes information targeted at those responsible for school improvement, including school leaders and those governing.”

Sam Henson, the NGA’s director of policy and communications, said a “decisive picture has now emerged of the declining visibility of governance through the way inspections are reported”.

“This study reveals an increasing trend towards Ofsted inspection reports more generally lacking sufficient depth.”

A spokesperson for Ofsted said the inspectorate “values the role governors play in schools, and it is an area that is looked at during inspections and evaluated as part of the leadership and management judgment… We welcome the NGA’s report and will reflect on its findings.”



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