Ofsted to judge schools use of tutors in host of inspection changes ahead of September return

Ofsted will judge how schools’ use of tutors supports the aims of their curriculum when full inspections return next year, new guidance has revealed.

The watchdog released a host of updates across its inspections frameworks today, including on expectations around sexual harassment following the sex abuse review. Here’s what you need to know.

1. Inspectors to probe how tutoring ‘supports curriculum aims’

The school inspection handbook, which provides guidance on full section 5 inspections, now states that “where the school is directly deploying tutors to support education recovery from the pandemic, inspectors will consider how their deployment supports the aims of the school curriculum”.

It explains the use of tutors will be integrated into the ‘quality of education’ and ‘leadership and management’ sections of Ofsted’s report and “will not be inspected in its own right”.

Tutoring is one of the cornerstones of the government’s education recovery plan, with £1 billion being invested to provide six million, 15-hour tutoring courses for disadvantaged school children.

Full, graded inspections have been suspended since March 2020 but are due to resume in September.

Ofsted 2. ‘Inadequate’ leadership rating ‘likely’ for sexual harassment failures

Following its review into sexual abuse in education, Ofsted has added a new section to its inspection handbook addressing what schools are expected to do.

It states schools without “adequate processes” to deal with the problem will likely be “considered ineffective” – this in turn “is likely to lead to an inadequate leadership and management judgement”.

“There may be circumstances when it is appropriate to judge a setting as requires improvement, rather than inadequate, if there are minor weaknesses in safeguarding arrangements that are easy to put right and do not leave children either being harmed or at risk of harm”, the guidance added.

3. Schools expected to assume sexual harassment is happening

The guidance states inspectors will expect schools to assume sexual harassment, online sexual abuse and sexual violence are happening “in and around school, even when there are no specific reports”.

Schools are expected to put in place a “whole-school approach”, ensure children are taught about safeguarding risks and supported to understand “what constitutes a healthy relationship”.

They will be expected to have a good awareness of signs a child is being abused and an understanding of how to handle reports of sexual violence.

Inspectors will check that “comprehensive records of all allegations are kept” and that the school’s policies are reflected in its curriculum.

They will also expect schools “to be alert to factors that increase vulnerability or potential vulnerability” – these include; mental ill health, domestic abuse, children with additional needs.

4. Ofsted won’t assess past two years’ teacher grades

During inspections, Ofsted will consider available external data but will “be mindful of the age of this data, especially around statutory assessment and qualifications, when making judgements”.

It clarified that teacher-assessed grades (TAGs) from 2020 and 2021, which were used in lieu of normal examinations, will not be used to assess curriculum impact.

The guidance adds: “Inspectors will not expect or accept internal data from schools either instead of or in addition to published data”.

5. Leaders must provide support for staff teaching outside expertise

Ofsted also clarified that for schools’ ‘quality of education’ to be judged as good or above teachers must “have good knowledge of the subject(s) and courses they teach”.

This includes leaders providing “effective support, including for those teaching outside their main areas of expertise”.

This is an issue which Ofsted has raised repeatedly in recent weeks through its subject research reviews – such as its look at Geography earlier this month.

6. Inspection window may be extended ‘by up to six terms’

Under the education inspection framework (EIF), schools will normally receive a section 8 monitoring inspection approximately every four years.

However the guidance now states: “For the first routine inspection after 4 May 2021, this period may be extended by up to 6 terms.”

Schools Week previously reported that Ofsted could temporarily extend its statutory inspection window by two years in order to ensure Covid disruption doesn’t result in a breach of its legal obligations.

7. Baker Clause failures will be reported

Under the Baker Clause, named after the former education secretary Lord Baker, schools are forced to let colleges, apprenticeship providers and University Technical Colleges talk to pupils about potential study routes.

This is to be done in line with the careers information, education, advice and guidance (CIEAG) expectations of schools.

Following mounting pressure, Ofsted clarified last week it will “always” report where a school fails to comply with the Baker clause and “consider” how it affects their grade.

New guidance states: “If a school is not meeting its requirements in respect of CIEAG, inspectors will state this in the inspection report.”

8. Independent schools won’t meet standards if inspectors cannot talk to pupils

Following a ‘material change’ at an independent school, Ofsted may be commissioned by the Department for Education to check whether it is likely to meet the safeguarding requirements of the independent school standards.

Material changes include a change of address or change to the age-range of pupils. Ofsted states “inspectors will need to talk to pupils” during these visits.

The watchdog clarified that if “inspectors cannot corroborate the evidence that they gather about the effectiveness of the school’s arrangements to safeguard pupils, by talking to pupils during the inspection, they will judge the relevant independent school standards as not met.”

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