Spielman admits to 'compromises' over new inspection framework

The chief inspector of schools has described Ofsted’s draft new inspection framework as the “very best of what is possible”, but admitted she had to compromise on some of her wishes.

Asked during a press conference this morning about why proposals advocated by the watchdog, such as more regular inspections of ‘outstanding’ schools, had failed to make the draft, Spielman pointed to funding constraints.

Ofsted confirmed yesterday that its new framework is “cost-neutral”, and that it will receive no extra money from the government to implement it.

Unions have criticised the framework, which is due to inform all school inspections from September, for failing to address the stress caused by Ofsted in schools and concerns over the reliability of inspections.

But Spielman defended the work, insisting that Ofsted has “really listened to feedback”, and said she was “confident we’re taking this forward in a really sensible way”.

Asked by Schools Week if she had achieved everything she wanted to do with the framework, Spielman said: “Of course there are compromises.

“I’m working in a time when everything in the public sector is highly constrained. My job is to make the very best of what is possible within my envelope and other constraints.

“I can get on and do the very best with what I have, or I can rail about what I haven’t got. Much better to get on and make the best with what I have.”

 

Ofsted will reconsider on-site prep proposal if schools flag problems

Plans to send inspectors into schools earlier – giving as little as two-and-a-half-hours’ notice – could be scrapped if they cause problems, Spielman has said.

New on-site inspector preparation proposals will see lead inspectors spend an afternoon at schools they are due to inspect the following day.

Schools will be informed of their impending visit by no later than 10am on the day before the inspection, and the lead inspector will arrive no earlier than 12.30pm, staying until no later than 5pm.

Asked about concerns that schools would simply view the prep time as the inspection starting earlier, Spielman said she was in listening mode.

“It’s something that’s actually been really popular on the pilots. It’s in response to feedback that inspection has become too data-driven, but if that’s all you have to plan off then it’s inevitably data-driven.

“So this is a genuine effort to have just the lead inspector come along for a planning conversation that lets the provider talk about the things they think should be the focus, what the strengths are, what’s happening, the things that wouldn’t necessarily be reflected in the data.

“If that works, great. If on the flipside it creates more problems than it solves then I wouldn’t pursue it. But it’s a genuine effort to address something that a lot of people have flagged as being a concern.”