Ofsted Inspection Handbook and governance matters

Ofsted has recently published updated Section 5 and Section 8 school inspection handbooks. The revisions to the Section 5 reflect latest education policy and the updates in the Section 8 handbook have been done to ensure it is in line with changes to statutory requirements.

Below I have copied parts of the Section 5 handbook which relate to governors/governance. The important point to note is that inspectors, while judging effectiveness of leadership and management will now also consider how committed the governors are to their own development (see text in red below). This means that we should be prepared to answer questions on the arrangements we have made for our training and CPD. Boards may like to consider maintaining a training log which may include details of governor CPD and its impact.

Notification and introduction

34 During the initial notification phone call, the inspection support administrator will check the number of pupils on roll at the school, the governance arrangements  for the school and whether the school has any special educational needs or additional resource provision

37 The purpose of the lead inspector’s initial call is to:

  • confirm what the governance structure of the school or academy is, including with reference, particularly for academies and multi-academy trusts, to the range of functions delegated to local governing bodies or other committees
  • make arrangements for a meeting with the chair of the governing body, or where appropriate the chair of the multi-academy trust, and as many governors as possible – they will also invite as many governors as possible to attend the final feedback meeting
  • request either a face-to-face meeting or a telephone call with a representative from the local authority, academy chain, multi-academy trust board, sponsor or other relevant responsible body; this does not apply to stand-alone academy converters

38 Inspectors will request that the following information is available at the start of the inspection:

  • documented evidence of the work of governors and their priorities, including any written scheme of delegation for an academy in a multi-academy trust
  • any reports of external evaluation of the school, including any review of governance or use of the pupil premium funding.

64 Inspectors will visit lessons to gather evidence about teaching, learning and assessment and will consider this first-hand evidence alongside documentary evidence about the quality of teaching and views from leaders, governors, staff, pupils and parents.

Meeting those responsible for governance

85 Inspectors will always seek to meet those responsible for governance during the inspection. This will usually include maintained school governors or academy trustees and sponsors (including sponsor representatives, where they exist). However, in a multi-academy trust, the board of trustees may have established a local governing body to which it may have  delegated certain governance functions. In some other cases, there may be a local governing body that is wholly advisory, with no formal governance responsibilities delegated to it. Inspectors should ensure that meetings are with those who are directly responsible for exercising governance of the school and for overseeing its performance.

86 The contribution of governors to the school’s performance is evaluated as part of the judgement on the effectiveness of leadership and management. As with the meetings between inspectors and pupils, parents and staff, meetings with those responsible for governance should take place without the headteacher or senior staff.

Providing feedback

92 The on-site inspection concludes with a final feedback meeting with the school. Those connected with the school who may attend include:

  • the headteacher and other senior leaders agreed by the lead inspector and headteacher
  • the chair of the school’s governing board (or the local governing body in the case of an academy that is part of a mult academy trust), and as many governors as possible
  • in an academy that is part of a multi-academy trust, at least one representative of the board of trustees
  • a representative from the local authority (for maintained schools) or academy sponsor and/or the designated responsible body

93 During this meeting, the lead inspector will ensure that the headteacher and governors are clear:

  • about the provisional grades awarded for each key judgement; sufficient detail must be given by the lead inspector to enable all attendees to understand how judgements have been reached and for governors to play a part in beginning to plan how to tackle any areas for improvement
  • that the grades are provisional and so may be subject to change as a result of quality assurance procedures or moderation and must, therefore, be treated as restricted and confidential to the relevant senior personnel (as determined by the school); they must not be shared beyond the school’s leadership team and governors (including those unable to attend the final feedback meeting); information about the inspection outcomes should be shared more widely only when the school receives a copy of the final inspection report
  • about the reasons for recommending an external review of governance and/or an external review of the use of the pupil premium (where applicable) and reference to the fact that this will be followed up at the next inspection
  • that, on receipt of the draft report, they must ensure that the report remains restricted and confidential to the relevant senior personnel (as determined by the school, but including governors) and that the information contained within it is not shared with any third party or published under any circumstances

Serious weaknesses

99  A school is judged to have serious weaknesses because one or more of the key judgements is inadequate (grade 4) and/or there are important weaknesses in the provision for pupils’ spiritual, moral, social and cultural development. However, normally, inspectors will have judged leadership and management to be at least grade 3 because leaders, managers and   governors will have demonstrated the capacity to secure improvement.

Effectiveness of leadership and management

140  The CIF sets out the overarching criteria for judging the effectiveness of leadership and management.

141 In making this judgement in schools, inspectors will consider:

    • the leaders’ and governors’ vision and ambition for the school and how these are communicated to staff, parents and pupils
    • whether leaders and governors have created a culture of high expectations, aspirations and scholastic excellence in which the highest achievement in academic and vocational work is recognised as vitally important
    • how effectively leaders use the primary PE and sport premium and measure its impact on outcomes for pupils, and how effectively governors hold them to account for this
    • the effectiveness of the actions leaders take to secure and sustain improvements to teaching, learning and assessment and how effectively governors hold them to account for this
    • how well leaders ensure that the school has a motivated, respected and effective teaching staff to deliver a high quality education for all pupils, and how effectively governors hold them to account for this
    • the quality of continuing professional development for teachers at the start and middle of their careers and later, including to develop leadership capacity and how leaders and governors use performance management to promote effective practice across the school
    • how effectively leaders monitor the progress of groups of pupils to ensure that none falls behind and underachieve, and how effectively governors hold them to account for this
    • how well leaders and governors engage with parents, carers and other stakeholders and agencies to support all pupils
    • how effectively leaders use additional funding, including the pupil premium, and measure its impact on outcomes for pupils, and how effectively governors hold them to account for this
  • the effectiveness of governors in discharging their core statutory functions and how committed they are to their own development as governors in order to improve their performance
  • how well leaders and governors promote all forms of equality and foster greater understanding of and respect for people of all faiths (and those of no faith), races, genders, ages, disability and sexual orientations (and other groups with protected characteristics), through their words, actions and influence within the school and more widely in the community
  • the effectiveness of safeguarding
  • the effectiveness of leaders’ and governors’ work to raise awareness and keep pupils safe from the dangers of abuse, sexual exploitation, radicalisation and extremism and what the staff do when they suspect that pupils are vulnerable to these issues.

142 Where the school has received external support, for example from the local authority, academy proprietor or trust, inspectors will evaluate and report on the quality and the impact of the external support and challenge on improvement in the school.

Sources of evidence

143 Inspectors will obtain a range of evidence from meetings with leaders and governors and first-hand evidence of their work across the school. Inspectors will use documentary evidence provided by the school, evaluating the impact of leaders’ and governors’ work, both currently and over time, in conjunction with first-hand evidence. Responses to the staff questionnaire and Parent View will also provide useful evidence for judging the culture that has been established in the school by leaders and managers.

144 Inspectors should consider any evidence the school has from regularly surveying the staff and how leaders and managers have responded to concerns raised by staff or parents, for example about how teachers are supported by senior leaders to tackle low-level disruptive behaviour. Inspectors will always report on the school’s activity to survey staff, whether   through the school’s internal procedures or its use of the Ofsted questionnaire (they will do this in the ‘information about this inspection’ section).

Safeguarding

145 In judging the effectiveness of leadership and management, inspectors must also judge whether the school’s arrangements for safeguarding pupils are effective, and whether those responsible for governance ensure that these arrangements are effective. There is detailed guidance on evaluating safeguarding arrangements in ‘Inspecting safeguarding in early years, education, skills settings’.

Governance

146 Inspectors will seek evidence of the impact of those responsible for governance. This includes maintained school governors, proprietors or academy trustees. In a multi-academy trust this may include members of the local governing board at school level, as well as the trustees.

147 Where a children’s centre is managed directly by the school’s governing body, inspectors will consider the impact of any judgements about the children’s centre or the services and activities offered through or by the centre, in judging leadership and management.

148 Inspectors will consider whether governors:

  • work effectively with leaders to communicate the vision, ethos and strategic direction of the school and develop a culture of ambition
  • provide a balance of challenge and support to leaders, understanding the strengths and areas needing improvement at the school
  • provide support for an effective headteacher or are hindering school improvement because of a lack of understanding of the issues facing the school
  • understand how the school makes decisions about teachers’ salary progression and performance
  • performance manage the headteacher rigorously
  • understand the impact of teaching, learning and assessment on the progress of pupils currently in the school
  • ensure that assessment information from leaders provides governors with sufficient and accurate information to ask probing questions about outcomes for pupils
  • ensure that the school’s finances are properly managed and can evaluate how the school is using the pupil premium, Year 7 literacy and numeracy catch-up premium, primary PE and sport premium, and special educational needs funding
  • are transparent and accountable, including in recruitment of staff, governance structures, attendance at meetings and contact with parents.

149 Inspectors will report on the achievement of pupils who have special educational needs and/or disabilities. This includes reporting on the pupils in any specialist resource provision managed by the governing body and the extent to which the education the school provides meets the needs of these pupils.

150 Inspectors will recommend an external review if governance is weak. Under ‘What the school should do to improve further’, inspectors should use the following words in the report:

‘An external review of governance should be undertaken in order to assess how this aspect of leadership and management may be improved.’

151 The school should decide how this review will take place and commission it. Reviews should be developmental. They do not represent a further inspection, although inspectors will follow up on the review during any subsequent inspection. Full details of what might be the form and nature of such reviews can be found at: http://www.gov.uk/reviews-of-school-%09governance.

Use of the pupil premium

152 Inspectors will gather evidence about the use of the pupil premium in relation to the following key issues:

  • how leaders and governors have spent the pupil premium, their rationale for this spending and its intended impact

Attendance and punctuality

Sources of evidence

168 Inspectors will gather the views of parents, staff, governors and other stakeholders

SSAT have published a summary of changes. 

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4 thoughts on “Ofsted Inspection Handbook and governance matters

  1. Pingback: Ofsted feedback and draft report matters | Governing Matters

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