1. So, what’s changing?
- There will be two new judgments: ‘quality of education and training’ and ‘leadership and management’. Ofsted says these will focus on the ITE curriculum and “help inspectors get to the heart of the quality of trainee teachers’ education”. They replace the previous ‘outcomes for trainees’ and ‘quality of training across the partnership’ judgments
- Inspections will be based on a single, four-day inspection – announced three days in advance. This replaces the previous two-stage process
- Similar to the new schools framework, ITE providers will now also get an “educationally focused” telephone call with an inspector before the inspection
- Inspections will run in spring and summer term-time only
- Curriculum will be explored through a “focused review” method – which is similar to the “deep dives” used in schools
2. Like in schools, there will be less focus on results
As with schools, the focus is shifting from results to what you teach. Ofsted has confirmed that outcomes data will have less prominence.
When looking at the impact of the ITE curriculum, Ofsted will consider ‘outcomes trainees achieve’, but this will relate to whether or not trainees “know more and remember more of the intended ITE curriculum and apply that knowledge to their practice”.
3. There’s some slack for those hit by covid-19
Ofsted said it’s aware that coronavirus disruption means providers may not have been able to deliver their new curriculum plans fully. So, they are introducing a “transition statement” – but this will only apply to the “’good’ grade criteria for the quality of education and training judgement”.
Essentially, inspectors can consider the ambition of curriculum plans and how well they have been delivered. If it’s clear the plans will be “fully executed for the September 2021 academic year” then inspectors can award a ‘good’ for the judgment. However, to be graded ‘outstanding’ a partnership must meet “all of the criteria for good and should also be exceptional”.
4. Phonics focus stays – despite ‘restrictive’ reservations
Ofsted proposed to inspect how well partnerships with early years and primary phases help trainees teach early reading, including systematic synthetic phonics (SSP). But respondents in the consultation raised concerns this is “restrictive and may undermine the academic freedoms”.
But Ofsted said teaching SSP is a requirement of the national curriculum, the teachers’ standards and in the government’s compulsory initial teacher training core content framework – so the “clear expectation” is that they do it.
However, they added: “All of this does not mean that trainees cannot be made critically aware that other methods for teaching reading exist.”
5. Autumn term inspections ditched
Following the consultation, Ofsted said it recognised the “difficulties of forming valid judgements during the autumn term”.
However, providers said most of the centre-based training takes place during this term – so inspectors may miss this. In response, Ofsted said that inspectors can gather sufficient evidence of what is systematic by talking to leaders about the programme, and then “connect this to how well trainees on placement apply and build on the knowledge they have gained”.
Meanwhile, the new phone call with partnership leaders will involve a short, practical planning phone call before a “longer conversation that is educationally focused”.
The notification of inspection has also been extended to three working days before the inspection week.
6. New ITE ‘deep dives’ ‘shouldn’t increase workload’
While there was strong support for the new “focused review” evidence gathering method (75 per cent agreed or strongly agreed), there were workload concerns over arranging subject-specific visits.
But Ofsted said the new methodology “should not increase workload for ITE partnerships”.
“Inspectors will discuss with partnership leaders the most pragmatic ways in which to plan the focused reviews, to ensure that inspection activities do not place an undue burden on partnerships.”
Providers were also concerned whether inspectors have the subject specialism to do such deep dives (we’ve had the same concerns in schools). Ofsted said its workforce is “experienced and highly trained”, adding focused reviews in individual subjects “are not subject inspections”.