Schools performing much better than expected – a grade or more above predictions – will be exempt from Ofsted inspections for a year, a Department for Education (DfE) official told an education conference last week.
Amy Collins, head of the DfE’s inspection and accountability unit, presented an outline of the Progress 8 performance measure to the Westminster Education Forum on Thursday.
She said schools could opt in to be measured under Progress 8 by the end of this academic year, and every school would be given a breakdown of where they currently sat next spring.
Currently, schools are judged on how many pupils achieve five A*-C grades at GCSE, including English and maths.
Under Progress 8, pupils’ progress will be tracked in eight qualifications – mandatory English literature and language, maths, three English baccalaureate subjects (which include sciences, history, geography, languages) plus a further three subjects, also baccalaureate or other choices – from the end of key stage 2 to the end of key stage 4.
Pupils with the same starting point will be measured alongside each other.
A school will be judged based on the mean average of all of its pupils’ individual scores.
Ms Collins said: “Schools will be below the floor standard if, on average, students have performed at half a grade less than expected. Schools which make one grade more progress will not be inspected by Ofsted in the next academic year.
“Different schools will be below the floor standard in the future when we move to the measure.”
When questioned by an audience member about the change, Ms Collins said: “I think our intention is that schools would be exempt from a routine inspection which is due to come up in the next academic year. It’s similar to the exemption for outstanding schools, but doesn’t supersede Ofsted’s ongoing risk assessment process.”
It is also expected that many more schools will be below the floor standard from next year, Ms Collins said. Showing a graph comparing GCSE to expected Progress 8 scores, it showed that several clusters of schools who previously met the five A* to C grade threshold would, on current data, no longer meet the expected standards.
An Ofsted spokesperson said: “Ofsted factors in the individual circumstances of all schools when inspecting, and this will remain the case for Progress 8 opt-in schools.
“When considering the 2015 results, inspectors will be aware of the school’s opt-in status. In all inspections, they will continue to make professional judgments based on a broad range of data and inspection evidence.
“Ofsted will continue to risk assess schools, including where there may be safeguarding concerns, in order to determine when inspections will take place.”