Ofsted delays ECF and NPQ provider inspections

Full inspections of lead providers will start from spring 2023

Full inspections of lead providers will start from spring 2023


Full inspections of lead providers of the government’s early career framework and national professional qualifications won’t start until next year, Ofsted has announced.

The watchdog had said it expected to begin inspections this spring.

But in an update on its new inspection framework, Ofsted said it would instead start monitoring visits in the summer, with full inspections not due to start until the spring of 2023.

Only lead providers will be directly inspected, but Ofsted will visit a “sample” of their delivery partners, including schools and trusts.

The government announced last year that Ofsted would inspect lead providers under its ECF and NPQ reforms.

The ECF is a two-year programme of training and development for new teachers, and a reformed suite of NPQs is on offer to more experienced staff.

Here’s what schools need to know.

1. Monitoring visits from this summer…

Ofsted will start monitoring visits to lead providers this summer to “check that early implementation is on track”.

The visits, carried out in the first year of a provider’s operation, will judge “whether leaders are taking effective action to establish the new courses”.

2. …and full inspections start spring 2023

Full inspections will then start next spring, with lead providers “usually” visited at least once every two academic years from their second year of operation.

Inspections will be on-site, but “some elements” may be conducted through video or telephone calls.

3. Only lead providers inspected

Only government-funded lead providers will be inspected, though Ofsted will also visit a “sample” of delivery partners, which include schools, academy trusts and teaching school hubs.

They will also speak to participants, school-based mentors, induction tutors and trainers to “inform our assessment of a lead provider”.

There are six lead providers for the ECF, and up to 11 NPQ providers in each region of England.

4. Same grades as school inspections

Full inspections will see providers judged on their “overall effectiveness”, as well as the “quality of professional development and training” and their “leadership and management”.

Ofsted will use the same grades used for schools and initial teacher education providers: ‘outstanding’, ‘good’, ‘requires improvement’ and ‘inadequate’.

The inspections will also report on “any failure to comply with the statutory requirements of the ECF”, and comment on the quality of the mentor training programme.

5. No inspection of school training

Ofsted has said it will not make judgments about individual early-career teachers or NPQ participants, delivery partners or mentors.

It will also not inspect ECF training in schools that choose to run their own induction programme, or make judgments on the content of ECF and NPQ programmes of education.

Individual lessons and monitoring and training sessions won’t be graded, and Ofsted won’t consider the accuracy of NPQ summative assessments.

6. Inspections allow DfE to ‘act’ if standards not met

As well as helping providers improve, Ofsted said its inspections would provide information to government and parliament about the work of lead providers, “allowing the government to act, if necessary”.

“This information includes whether an acceptable standard of professional development and training is being provided, minimum standards are being met, and the use of public money is justified.”

7. Ofsted will try to inspect ECF and NPQs together

Ofsted said that, where a provider offers both ECF and NPQ programmes, it will “usually carry out full inspections in parallel, where possible”.

However, it will “always” carry out a single monitoring visit to lead providers in their first year of operation, “regardless of whether they offer both ECF and NPQ programmes”.

8. Inspectors may visit following complaints

The watchdog said scheduling of inspections would be proportionate to the “performance and circumstances of lead providers”.

Providers will be inspected based on the time since their last inspection, their previous inspection outcomes, “local intelligence”, information from the DfE and “any other significant concerns that are brought to our attention, for example complaints about the lead provider”.

Ofsted said that if a monitoring visit finds a provider is “not taking effective action” to ensure their provision is of “high quality”, then it will “normally return to do a full inspection within a year”.

9. Providers get five days’ notice

Providers will normally “get the call” between 9.30am and 11am five working days before the start of the inspection or monitoring visit. They can request deferrals.

Full inspections will “usually consist of 4 days of activity within the same week”.

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