Ofsted is planning to make changes to its inspection framework in order to make assessments more meaningful, its chief executive has announced.
Amanda Spielman talked about her company and the future of school inspections at the Bryanston Education Summit last week. The Education Executive has explored some highlights of the speech, published on the GOV.UK website.
Spielman opened by acknowledging: “Now is the right time for us to consider not just how we carry out our inspections, but also to ask the more fundamental questions of what school inspection is and who it is for.”
She continued by talking about Ofsted’s history, noting how it has changed over the last 15 years. Time and money constraints mean that inspections can no longer be as thorough as they once were, Spielman noted, though it does encourage those carrying out assessments to be as focused and in-depth as possible.
“I don’t kid myself that there are hordes of teachers crying out for a return to week-long inspections, but there are downsides for schools of a narrower approach […] What struck me most were the comments about how the change in our inspection model limited teachers’ exposure to the process.”
Spielman explained how teachers felt inspections were something “done to them” rather than with them. Many teachers also told Ofsted that they feel “the loss of feedback, dialogue and professional development.”
As a result, Spielman wants to work on enhancing the relationship Ofsted has with teachers, improving the quality of the actual reports for teachers and parents, and ensuring steps are put in place to hold schools accountable.
Spielman dispelled the common myth that it is Ofsted which holds schools to account. She added: “Our job is to provide the information for responsible bodies [...] it is a happy fact that in recent years we have been able to deliver a positive message about rising standards, a credit to the hard work of heads, teachers and other professionals across the country.”
Ofsted inspections must satisfy a number of audiences, and Spielman noted how balancing the needs of each audience will be a key consideration when devising the new framework.
The three key pillars underpinning the new framework will include: making sure inspections are about more than awarding grades to a school; using data appropriately; and taking into account wider societal issues.
Do you welcome this proposal for a new Ofsted framework? If so, what changes would you like to see implemented?