Ofsted chief inspector outlines plans for 2019

Ofsted’s chief inspector gave a speech last week in which details of the organisation’s future processes and movements were detailed

Amanda Spielman, chief inspector of Ofsted, delivered a speech on Thursday as part of the Festival of Education at Wellington College.

Following the announcement that Ofsted will create a new and improved inspection framework, Spielman discussed the matter in more detail as part of her talk and shed some light on her future intentions. Here, we have drawn out some of the most important parts of the speech for examination.

“I want to spend some time telling you about what we’ve been doing. First, intelligent inspection: that is, everything we do should be valid, reliable and evidence-based.

“Many of you will have seen the discussion paper we published after the international lesson observation seminar we held last year. Lesson observation is an important part of our inspections and we wanted to look at the different approaches taken across the world. We won’t be importing any one of these models wholesale – because most are better suited to in-school observation as part of professional development– but they have provided some useful pointers for building on and refining our approach.

“We will soon be publishing a full research plan for the next two years. But, just to give you a flavour, themes will include: Science in primary schools, and foreign languages and art in secondary schools; how pupils with SEND in mainstream schools can get better access to support; teacher well-being and workload; improving basic skills and knowledge in further education; how we develop curriculum knowledge in initial teacher education; and what it means to a school to be part of a MAT.

“To make sure that inspector practice is as good as it can be, we have reshaped our training. It now has a real focus on developments in education thinking, research and practice; a new ‘inspector curriculum’ if you like.

“We’re also thinking about the role that inspection plays in the school leadership journey. The role of HMI has traditionally been the final chapter in a school leader’s career. Now, with the growth of MATs and with other system leadership opportunities, that is often not the case. And I don’t think that’s a bad thing. I am attracted to the idea of school leaders coming to Ofsted for four or five years, and then returning to a more senior leadership position, taking with them everything they’ve learned through inspection.

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“We’ve been thinking hard about how we can make sure our inspection reports meet the needs of the diverse audiences who read them. We know that parents want us to incorporate more of their feedback, and to give a better feel for the distinctiveness of individual schools. We’re also thinking, as I said a couple of weeks ago, about how we can make more space for engagement and interaction with classroom teachers in inspections.

“Finally, we are doing more to make sure that our inspections are focused on the right things at the right level. So, for example, we have changed our approach to safeguarding, so that we are genuinely looking at whether a school has a safeguarding culture, rather than, dare I say it, looking at the height of playground fences. We’re redesigning our approach to batched inspections of schools in multi-academy trusts, and of course we continue to engage with the Department on how to address the assessment of MATs in a way that reflects how they actually operate.

“I hope you have noticed that I have been robust in make sure that inspection does not become a catch-all for every worthy aspiration. That is absolutely not because I don’t care about these issues, whether it is child obesity, or first aid training or whatever else. It is because, quite simply, the more we load into the inspection framework, the less capacity we have to inspect the quality of education and whether schools are properly preparing young people to succeed in modern Britain.

So, I really hope you can see that we are living that commitment to be a force for improvement in all we do. Nowhere is that more so than in our work to develop the new education inspection framework for 2019.”

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