Heads told to take notes as new parent-focused Ofsted reports omit details

School leaders have been advised to take notes during feedback meetings with Ofsted as new reports omit detailed findings in favour of simplified language for parents.

Reports published since the new framework was introduced on September 1 are half the length of the old ones and use general headings such as “what is it like to attend this school?” and “what does the school do well and what does it need to do better?”, rather than specific breakdowns of the evidence used to inform each judgment.

A section for school leaders on needed improvements often only consists of a few bullet points.

Language has also been simplifed, with reports including explanations of phonics as “letters and the sounds they make”, and a strong focus on school trips, including several to Cadbury World.

At Wrockwardine Wood Infant School in Telford the report flagged that pupils were encouraged to “think like a ‘resilient rhino’ when they get stuck”, while pupils at Welbourn Church of England Primary in Lincoln told inspectors the school had a “real family feel”.

In May 2018 Amy Finch, the inspectorate’s head of strategic development, said it wanted to remove “technical jargon” to make reports more relevant to parents.

Stephen Rollett, a curriculum and inclusion specialist at the Association of School and College Leaders, said Ofsted insisted leaders would “receive more detailed feedback in the final debrief meeting at the end of the inspection”. Schools should take notes in these meetings so “details can be captured and put to appropriate use”.

An Ofsted spokesperson said the redesign and shortening of the reports was “in direct response to extensive work we have done with parents” to identify how to make them more “accessible”.

He said the final feedback session could be attended by leaders, governors and a clerk to take notes.

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