Plans to judge schools on the effectiveness of leadership and management, the quality of learning and assessment and pupils’ “personal development, behaviour and welfare” have been outlined by Ofsted as part of a raft of reforms.
The watchdog has published inspection handbooks for its new “common inspection framework” (CIF), which from September will apply to visits to schools, early years and further education (FE) institutions.
The documents, unveiled by Ofsted following a launch event for the CIF in Westminster this afternoon, confirm the new headline areas on which schools and other providers will be judged.
As expected, the word “effectiveness” has been added to the “leadership and management” heading, while the former “quality of teaching” brief has been expanded to also include learning and assessment.
What used to be headed “behaviour and safety” is now “personal development, behaviour and welfare”, and “achievement of pupils” has become “outcomes for pupils”.
Many of the new headings were already in use under the existing FE and skills inspection framework, but will now apply across the board as Ofsted attempts to ensure parents and learners can easily compare different types of provider.
Addressing the launch event, chief inspector Sir Michael Wilshaw said: “A young person, parent or employer should be able to pick up any of Ofsted’s inspection reports and be able to understand them quickly because the format and judgements are the same.
“What we won’t change, however, is the rigour of our inspections and our determination to shine a spotlight on underperformance.”
He added that he would “continue to tell it how it is, no matter how many brick bats are thrown at Ofsted and towards me”.
But the new measures don’t appear to have allayed the concerns of the teaching unions.
Nansi Ellis, assistant general secretary at the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL), said: “We are pleased Ofsted has listened to the accurate criticisms about its inspections and is moving towards the more effective system proposed by ATL.
“But, we are deeply worried that the government might use Ofsted judgements to identify ‘coasting’ schools so that they can be turned into academies. This would make it difficult for schools to have truly honest conversations about their own strengths and weaknesses.”
And Christine Blower, general secretary of the National Union of Teachers (NUT), said: “The NUT welcomes Ofsted’s acknowledgement that there have been inconsistencies in Ofsted inspections. The changes indicate that Ofsted accepts it has failed to guarantee the quality or consistency of its inspection teams.”
However Ms Blower stated concerns that the Ofsted was contributing to a “climate of fear” within the profession.
“Ofsted should be abolished and replaced by a new model of school accountability which is independent and perceived to be so and which has been developed in conjunction with the teaching profession,” she said.
A DfE spokesperson said: “Robust and effective school inspection is a key part of our plan for education and we are pleased Ofsted is bringing in these important changes that will drive further improvements.
“The new, shorter inspections for good schools and colleges are a more proportionate approach which reduces burdens on heads and teachers, and gives good schools more time to focus on teaching their pupils well.”