Amanda Spielman, the chief inspector of schools, has launched a consultation on Ofsted’s new inspection framework, saying her ambitions for the framework could be summed up by the words ‘substance and integrity’.

Speaking at the Sixth Form Colleges Association winter conference, Ms Spielman said she hoped the new framework would ‘put inspection back into its proper place, where it complements published performance data, rather than intensifying the pressure on [teachers] to deliver higher numbers each year’. Conceding that Ofsted had sometimes been ‘guilty of being too reliant on data’ she said that the new framework would have a greater focus on the curriculum, and on ‘how results are achieved’. The proposed framework replaces the previous ‘quality of teaching, learning and assessment’ judgement with an overall ‘quality of education’ judgment. The chief inspector said she hoped the new judgment would help ‘providers with challenging intakes, but who don’t succumb to the temptation to think about performance tables ahead of young people’.

On workload Ms Spielman said that she wanted to ‘bust the myth that data should be created for Ofsted’ and announced that Ofsted would no longer use schools’ internal performance data for current pupils as evidence during inspections. However, Ofsted will still ask schools about what data they collect and why, and under a new ‘leadership and management’ judgement, will also consider whether school leaders are being ‘realistic and constructive’ in managing workload.

Ofsted also proposes to separate personal development and behaviour in its inspections, with the ‘personal development, behaviour and welfare’ judgment being scrapped and replaced with two separate judgments: ‘behaviour and attitudes’ and ‘personal development’. Ms Spielman said these aspects of the inspection were often the ones ‘most of interest’ to parents, and that Ofsted believes they are best judged separately. Other proposals in the draft framework are to increase the length of inspections for schools previously judged ‘good’ from one day to two, and to trial inspectors conducting some of their pre-inspection preparation at the school site. In practice this could mean the lead inspector arriving at a school just two and half hours after the school receives notice of the inspection.

Initial reaction to the proposed framework from education unions has been mixed. Dr Mary Bousted, general secretary of the National Education Union (NEU) said ‘The uncomfortable truth for Ofsted is that the practices it deplores - the narrowing of the school curriculum and teaching to the test - have been the results of its own enforcement, through inspection, of a range of narrow measures to judge school quality’, adding ‘None of these narrow accountability measures are being abolished.’

Meanwhile, Deborah Lawson, general secretary of the Voice union, welcomed the framework overall and particularly its emphasis on the quality of education and teaching, calling it a ‘positive step forward’. However, she called for implementation of the framework to be delayed. The new framework is currently due to come into force in September this year, but Ms Lawson suggested that the proposed timetable ‘does not factor in sufficient time to amend the draft guidance and handbook’. Voice suggests ‘either pausing or trialling inspections during the autumn term instead, to ensure that all education establishments have time to prepare for the changes’, she said.

Welcoming the proposed framework, secretary of state for education Damian Hinds said Ofsted and the DfE were ‘fully united’ in aiming to ensure pupils had access to an ‘ambitious, broad and balanced curriculum’.

The draft framework and consultation can be found at: https://tinyurl.com/y9xus74j

The consultation closes on 5 April 2019.

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