Are you ready for a revamped Ofsted inspection?

8th Nov 2019

As every school leader knows, Ofsted implemented significant alterations to its inspection framework for the 2019/20 academic year.

One of the key changes is a shift towards inspecting what is actually taught in schools, with a new ‘Quality of Education’ judgement now forming a weighty segment of Ofsted reports. It’s clear from Amanda Spielman’s public pronouncements that she had become deeply concerned about a narrowing of education, caused (at least in part) by the inspectorate’s focus on certain specific outcomes.

As the accountability agenda tightened its screw over the last couple of decades, parents and teachers became increasingly worried by the trend for heads, especially in primary schools, to dedicate an ever-increasing proportion of their precious resources towards Maths and English, at the expense of a broad school experience.

Parents have broadly welcomed the Chief Inspector’s recognition of this damaging situation and decisive action towards improving it, which, if concerns over the subjectivity of judgments can be addressed, ought to lead to England’s education system producing more balanced, rounded citizens.

In practice, what does this mean that Ofsted inspectors are looking for? Recent reports reveal that there is particular evidence schools definitely need to be ready to provide: you’ll have to show what is taught in each subject in each year group. If you do this well, you can expect your report to feature positive comments:

  • ‘Leaders have used the national curriculum to create new plans for teaching science, geography, history, art and DT. These subjects are being linked together by topics and a sequence of knowledge, skills and vocabulary.’
  • ‘Leaders have planned new topics to link science, geography, history, art, and design technology (DT) together. They have begun to put these new plans in place. The plans ensure that content, skills and vocabulary are taught progressively in these subjects across the school.’
  • ‘Leaders have planned carefully what is taught so that all pupils can make progress.’

If you don’t manage to get this quite right, you may attract the inspector’s ire:

  • ’In geography, history and physical education it is not clear how pupils’ learning of specific knowledge and skills is developed over time.’
  • ‘In some subjects, there was very little evidence to indicate that pupils were getting the breadth of study as laid out in the national curriculum requirements.’

Ofsted have also been focusing intently on the quality of the communication between teachers, parents, carers and governors towards delivering these plans. Schools are being overtly praised for doing this well:

  • ‘They are keen to work closely with parents and carers. They send messages electronically and have regular “meet the teacher” events.’
  • ‘Staff also work closely with parents and carers. Detailed records show that concerns and referrals to other agencies are followed up.’
  • ‘clearer and more regular communication with parents and the local community has been particularly valued’.
  • ‘Parents who spoke with inspectors during the inspection were complimentary about the school’s communication systems.’

We know that Ofsted is a major contributor to stress levels in schools, and we sympathise with teachers trying to navigate the changes. Fortunately, we can help. Faronics Wise squarely meets Ofsted’s needs, allowing you to lay out your schemes of work and lesson plans in a user-friendly way for everyone to access easily, so that you’re not caught on the hop by any question about your curriculum. We can also help you boost parental visibility - you can send texts to bespoke groups of parents at the push of a button, and our parental portal allows parents to see real-time information relating to homework, behaviour or attendance. Faronics Wise combines all your vital operations in one place, keeping everyone on the same page when Ofsted call.

For more information, please drop us a line at hello@faronicswise.co.uk or or call us on 01344 206414.

Tom Guy, Product Manager, Faronics Wise