Adam Reed

Director of School Improvement

  • Experienced Middle & Senior Leader
  • Specialises in data, curriculum and leadership training

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OFSTED: Five things you should know about the new inspection framework

Consultation consulted. Pilots piloted. Reviews reviewed. We are now at the forefront of an amazing time in education. Primary schools are preparing for what I believe to be one of the most dramatic shifts in inspection focus in, probably, the last twenty years. We now have an inspection framework that places increasingly greater importance on achieving the best pedagogy and learning opportunities across a broad curriculum, and increasingly less importance on getting ‘bums on seats’ with groups of pupils meeting expected standards, or not.

Don’t get me wrong, there’s a lot to think about. But I’m excited – as are many of the school leaders that I work with on a daily basis. There is a tangible air of positive expectation and interest in what the new framework will mean. We’ve been fortunate enough to work alongside a number of schools that have been inspected under the pilots of the new framework. We’ve been fortunate enough to gain insight into what the new framework could mean for your school.

I’ve tried to compile a list of things you should know, and should certainly be talking about with your staff, in readiness for this new innovation in inspection. Here they are:

1. Intent, implementation and impact

I’m sure you’ve come across this, but what does it mean to your staff? Individual teachers that we know have been questioned about Curriculum Intent by inspection teams. How confident are your staff at articulating your school’s response to the ‘Three I’s’?

2. Cognitive load & research-based actions

What does this mean? Where does it come from as a concept? What does it mean for the OFSTED definition of learning? Most importantly, how will it manifest in your classrooms? Research-based action is a more subtle inclusion in current OFSTED thinking, but important nonetheless. How much of your curriculum, leadership structure, pedagogy, development plan, intervention and support of vulnerable groups of pupils comes from research-based successes from around the UK and beyond?

3. Protected characteristics

There are nine defined protected characteristics. How many of them are already enshrined in school policy? (Probably most of them). How many are visible in any given lesson? (Possibly fewer!). Do we understand how to get pupils to understand about their protected characteristics?

4. Changed inspection areas

What will be inspected has changed, as well as how. In the table below, how might the shift in these areas impact on our SEF, SDP, Governance challenge and support, or even the structure of our school?

5. The new day and new methods

Our current understanding of what time we have to prepare for an OFSTED inspection could well dramatically change from this September (or even earlier). How is this going to inform how we prepare staff (and evidence) for an inspection? What have you considered, regarding your staff wellbeing, in relation to the changed pressures and a different dynamic of inspection? Do your staff know how inspectors will collect and analyse pupil work (random rather than the traditional LA, MA, HA work scrutiny)?

One thing that hasn’t changed? The language of IMPACT. Seeing as that has remained constant, can we also recognise what the IMPACT of the changes outlined above will have on our school, our leaders, our staff, our governors and our pupils?

If you’d like to know more about how we can support your school in finding more effective ways of preparing your school for inspection, take a look at our Your School and the New Ofsted Inspection Framework course, which is taking place in venues across the UK.