Category Archives: Ofsted

Ofsted Inspection Handbook Sept 2018; knowing what’s changed matters

Ofsted have published the Sept 2018 version of its Inspection hadbook. For my previous blog I had extracted those parts of the handbook which talked about governance. Jude Hunton had asked on twitter if there were significant changes between the updated version and the old one. Elizabeth Boulton, Head of Research Dissemination Ofsted, had kndly responded. She told us how to check for changes in the update (click on show all updates which is next to the publication date) and listed the changes. This may be of interest to others too so I am copying the changes below.

Updated handbook: added privacy notice information, updated ‘Inspection of religious education and collective worship’ section (in annex). Updated ‘Clarification for schools/Ofsted inspection myths’ document: added new information in ‘Evidence for inspection section’ about attainment, added new sections on performance management, safeguarding, and the curriculum.

Updated paragraphs 21 and 23 to clarify that good schools are now inspected approximately every 4 years.

Paragraph 17 has been amended to clarify the position for inspecting exempt schools.

Updated for changes to ‘Requires improvement’ monitoring and changes arising from the second consultation on short inspections.

Changes to the Outcomes for pupils section reflecting changes to GCSE grades and data reports (a new IDSR); updates to Clarification for schools section and mythbuster document around myths and misunderstandings; clarification of arrangements for meeting relevant members of the governance structure and inclusion of chief executives or equivalents in inspections of academies in multi-academy trusts; and new content explaining what happens to schools that receive the ‘requires improvement’ and ‘inadequate’ judgements.

Link to latest inspection blog post with summary of changes to handbook.

Updated to reflect changes in legislation.

Added HTML version of inspection myths document.

Updated clarification document for schools added. This document has been updated to reflect the handbook for use from September 2015.

Final document for use from September 2015 published.

First published.

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Ofsted Inspection Handbook (Sept 2018) and governance matters

Ofsted has recently published the School Inspection Handbook (Sept 2018). This handbook is primarily a guide for inspectors on how to carry out school inspections. However, it is made available to schools and other organisations to ensure that they are informed about the process and procedures of inspection. Below are extracts from the Handbook which relate to governors/governance. The Handbook also includes information concerning the meeting which the inspectors will hold with those responsible for governance as well as information about who can attend the feedback meeting and see the draft report. There are many myths around the role of governors during inspection so the clarification is welcome.

Outstanding/exempt schools

21. In addition, exempt schools may be inspected between risk assessments where:

  • concerns are raised about standards of leadership or governance

Short inspections of good schools

As is the case for all schools, a good school may still receive a ‘no formal designation’ inspection carried out under section 8 at any time if:

  • concerns are raised about standards of leadership or governance that suggest that it should be inspected earlier than its next scheduled inspection

Statutory provisions

  • Ofsted will report on any failure to comply with statutory arrangements, including those relating to the workforce, where these form part of the inspection framework and evaluation schedule (Part 2 of this handbook)
  • Leadership and governance
  • As many governors or trustees as possible are invited to meet inspectors during an inspection.
  • For academies, inspectors meet those directly responsible for management and governance, including the CEO/their delegate (or equivalent), the chair of the board of trustees and other trustees.
  • An inspector may talk to the chair of governors by telephone if s/he is unable to attend a face-to-face meeting with the inspector in school.
  • All those responsible for governance need to know the outcome of the inspection as soon as possible. Individual governor representatives must keep the outcomes confidential until the school has received the final inspection report.

Notification and introduction

37. 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.

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

  • confirm what the governance structure of the school or academy is,31 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 board of trustees and as many governors as possible – they will also invite as many governors as possible to attend the final feedback meeting

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

  • documented evidence of the work of those responsible for governance 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.

The start of the on-site inspection

62. Inspectors will not arrive before 8.00am. The lead inspector should meet the headteacher and/or senior leadership team briefly at the beginning of the inspection to:

  • confirm arrangements for meetings with representatives of those responsible for the governance of the school and with key staff

Observing teaching, learning and assessment

67. 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. Inspectors will also include evidence from observing pupils learning in, for example, extra-curricular activities. This range of evidence also informs the evaluation of pupils’ progress, pupils’ personal development, behaviour and welfare, and the impact of leaders’ and managers’ improvements to teaching and assessment.

Meeting those responsible for governance

88. 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.

89. 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

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

  • the chair of the school’s governing board and as many governors as possible
  • for academies, the chair of the board of trustees and as many trustees as possible

97. 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 howto 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 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, theymust 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

Special measures

108. When the evidence indicates that one or more of the key judgements is inadequate, inspectors must consider whether the school is failing to give its pupils an acceptable standard of education. If this is confirmed by the evidence, inspectors must consider whether leaders, managers and governors are demonstrating the capacity to improve the school. If both of these conditions are met then the school requires special measures. If neither or only one of these two conditions are met, the school has serious weaknesses

After the inspection

Arrangements for publishing the report

121. Inspection reports will be quality-assured before Ofsted sends a draft copy to the school. The draft report is restricted and confidential to the relevant personnel (as determined by the school), including those responsible for governance, and should not be shared more widely or published.

Effectiveness of leadership and management

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

152. 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 action 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 ahigh 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 promote effective practice across the school
  • how effectively leaders monitor the progress of pupils to ensure that none falls behind and underachieves, and how effectively governors hold them to account for this
  • how well leaders and governors engage with parents 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

Sources of evidence

154. 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.

Safeguarding

156. 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

157. 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 board55 at school level, as well as the trustees.

158. 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.

159. 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
  • 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.

160. 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.

161. 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.’

162. 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: www.gov.uk/reviews-of-school-governance

Use of the pupil premium

163. 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

Grade descriptors for the effectiveness of leadership and management

Note: Grade descriptors are not a checklist. Inspectors adopt a ‘best fit’ approach that relies on the professional judgement of the inspection team.

Outstanding (1)

  • Leaders and governors have created a culture that enables pupils and staff to excel. They are committed unwaveringly to setting high expectations for the conduct of pupils and staff. Relationships between staff and pupils are exemplary.
  • Leaders and governors focus on consistently improving outcomes for all pupils, but especially for disadvantaged pupils. They are uncompromising in their ambition
  • Governors systematically challenge senior leaders so that the effective deployment of staff and resources, including the pupil premium, the primary PE and sport premium, Year 7 literacy and numeracy catch-up premium and special educational needs funding, secures excellent outcomes for pupils. Governors do not shy away from challenging leaders about variations in outcomes for pupil groups and between disadvantaged and other pupils nationally.
  • Leaders and governors have a deep, accurate understanding of the school’s effectiveness informed by the views of pupils, parents and staff. They use this to keep the school improving by focusing on the impact of their actions in key areas.
  • Leaders and governors use high quality professional development to encourage, challenge and support teachers’ improvement. Teaching is highly effective across the school

Good (2)

  • Leaders and governors are ambitious for all pupils and promote improvement effectively. The school’s actions secure improvement in disadvantaged pupils’ progress, which isrising, including in English and mathematics.
  • Leaders and governors have an accurate and comprehensive understanding of the quality of education at the school. This helps them plan, monitor and refine actions to improve all key aspects of the school’s work.
  • Leaders and governors use professional development effectively to improve teaching. They use accurate monitoring to identify and spread good practice across the school.
  • Governors hold senior leaders stringently to account for all aspects of the school’s performance, including the use of pupil premium, the primary PE and sport premium, Year 7 literacy and numeracy catch-up premium and special educational needs funding, ensuring that the skilful deployment of staff and resources delivers good or improving outcomes for pupils.

Requires improvement (3)

  • Leadership and management are not yet good.

Inadequate (4)

Leadership and management are likely to be inadequate if one or more of the following applies.

  • Capacity for securing further improvement is poor and the improvements leaders and governors have made are unsustainable, have been implemented too slowly or are overly dependent on external support.
  • Leaders and governors, through their words, actions or influence, directly and/or indirectly, undermine or fail to promote equality of opportunity. They do not prevent discriminatory behaviour and prejudiced actions and views.
  • Leaders and governors are not protecting pupils from radicalisation and extremist views when pupils are vulnerable to these. Policy and practice are poor, which means pupils are at risk.

Attendance and punctuality

Sources of evidence

180. Inspectors will make this judgement using evidence seen during the inspection as well as evidence of trends over time. The judgement will be informed by documentary evidence about behaviour, including how the school tackles poor behaviour, as well as discussions with and observations of pupils at break times, lunchtimes and between lessons. Inspectors will assess the school’s use of exclusion, including the rates, patterns and reasons for exclusion, as well as any differences between groups of pupils. Inspectors will gather the views of parents, staff, governors and other stakeholders.

Inspection of religious education and collective worship

Schools with a religious character

The inspectors who conduct section 48 inspections are appointed by the school’s governing body or the foundation governors in a voluntary controlled school, having consulted with person(s) prescribed in regulations (normally the appropriate religious authority) where applicable. The inspectors are normally drawn from the relevant faith group’s section 48 inspection service, although not all faith groups have their own inspectors organised in this way. Regulations specify that section 48 inspections must be conducted within five school years from the end of the school year in which the last section 48 inspection took place.

The relationship between section 5 and section 48 inspections is governed by a protocol between Ofsted and signatory faith group inspectorates. Ofsted’s lead inspector should check the section 48 arrangements and:

  • if no section 48 inspection by a suitable person has taken place, the lead inspector should check the arrangements; if the governors have not arrangedfor a section 48 inspection, inspectors should conclude that they have failed to carry out a statutory responsibility and refer to this in the section 5 inspection report, as part of the governance narrative under the leadership and management section of the report.

Footnotes
31This must be checked with the headteacher as part of the call. Where multi-academy trusts have delegated responsibility to local governing bodies, this should be set out in a scheme of delegation. Academies should also set out their governance structure in their annual statement of accounts, which can generally be accessed through the DfE performance tables’ site. Inspectors should clarify where responsibility lies and who they should talk with during the inspection, especially where a school is part of a multi-academy trust.

55In a multi-academy trust, this could include meeting with a local governing board where relevant responsibilities are devolved in accordance with the scheme of delegation.

Informing governors about Ofsted inspection matters

Education, like other fields, has its fair share of myths. One of the persistent myths concerns the role of governors during an Ofsted inspection. Shena Lewington had first raised the matter of governors meeting inspectors, being able to attend the feedback meeting and seeing the draft report. Sean Harford, Ofsted’s National Director, Education, to his credit, has tried to bust the myth that not all governors can meet inspectors, attend the feedback or see the draft report again and again. This myth, however, refuses to die! This is why I am very happy to see this addressed again in the July edition of the School Inspection Update (Issue 14). I am copying the relevant passage below.

Informing governors about an inspection

It has been brought to our attention that some schools have not informed all of their governors/trustees about the inspection of their school, nor invited them to meet inspectors during the inspection.

Inspectors should make clear to the headteacher, at the start of the inspection, that all governors/trustees must be informed of the inspection and that arrangements should be made for inspectors to meet the chair of governors/chair of the board of trustees and as many governors/trustees as possible during the inspection, and that as many governors/trustees as possible should also be invited to attend the final feedback meeting.

There you have it! Governors and trustees must be informed that their school is being inspected. The school should make arrangements so as many governors/trustees can meet inspectors/attend the feedback meeting as possible. Ofsted and Sean do all they can to publicise this. People sometimes say that not everyone is on twitter and so these clarifications are missed by those who aren’t. It is therefore appreciated that the school inspection update has clarified this yet again. It is up to us as school leaders/governors/trustees to keep ourselves informed by reading these updates. Please pass this on to your chair/head/governors/trustees and governor/trustee colleagues in other schools so that we can all help kill this myth once and for all!

What governors think of the NAHT motion matters

Today scrolling through Twitter I came across the following tweet.

This was the NAHT debating a motion asking Ofsted to REDUCE emphasis on inspecting governance as part of Leadership and Management. I asked for comments from other governors. Almost all were surprised at this. We couldn’t understand the reasoning behind the motion. There were some light hearted comments such as “Isn’t it lovely that they are concerned about extra pressure on us. They are only looking out for us.” Another comment, in similar vein, was from me. I said that reading this gave me the impression that somewhere a conversation like the one below had taken place which led to the motion.

GB to Head, “Could you include x,y,z in your report, please?”

Head to GB,”Don’t worry about that. I’ve got it under control.”

GB to Head, “No, we really do need it. For one thing it’s our job. For another, we are due an Ofsted and we want to ensure we know our stuff.”

Head to GB, “Ah, Ofsted! Don’t worry about that. We’ll get them not to hold you to account. We’ll tell them you’ve got too much work to do.”

Other governors had also read the Schools Week tweet which led to more discussions. Numerous serious points were made in response to my question and question/comments by others. I’ve summarised discussions from different threads on Twitter and Facebook below.

  • This may indicate that heads don’t really understand governance
  • The role and responsibility has changed since I’ve been a governor. The workload means it’s like a job now
  • There are some heads who get frustrated by their governors and we must acknowledge this. On the other hand there are also heads who try and run the school as their personal fiefdom and try and exclude the GB. We have a duty to be as professional as we can and heads need to understand and respect what governance is and what we do
  • Not a straight forward debate. Looking at the framework, it is a part time job
  • Collaboration is key
  • Power grab?
  • We are volunteers which means that if the workload gets too much we can leave. “But I’m a volunteer” should not be used as an excuse
  • Unfortunate that those who may have had a poor experience of governance assume it’s typical in every institution
  • Are they are considering our health and wellbeing?
  • We have gone from “cup of tea, sticky bun and agree with the head” to a very different model. Some governors and heads have kept up and some haven’t
  • Getting paid may be a better route than downplaying the role in Ofsted inspections. But if you pay peanuts, you’ll get monkeys!
  • Some governing bodies create an unnecessary workload for themselves and do not distribute workload effectively.
  • Training of governors is an issue
  • Motion was proposed and passed at the conference. The reason for it needs to be heard
  • If governance goes wrong then everything will
  • Schools need good governance and governance needs to be accountable
  • Really disappointed to see this motion
  • Governance is essential in any organisation
  • My role as chair is far more stressful than my job (I’m saying this tongue-in-cheek)
  • If this happened, where is the incentive to fix bad governance? One role of god governance is to hold heads to account. How would that happen?
  • Perhaps they don’t want to be held to account
  • I feel passionately that strong governance remains
  • Personally I would prefer separate judgement for governance
  • I don’t agree the governance should be a separate judgement. We are part of leadership and management and this emphasises that
  • GBs are accountable in law. Reduce work load by discouraging unneeded hoop jumping? Yes. Make GBs less accountable? Absolutely not!
  • Train governors to understand role. That will help in reducing workload
  • I can see two sides to this. The possible impact of poor governance on a head and the inability of a head to control good governance
  • Ofsted don’t have the expertise to measure governance accurately
  • Inspectors shouldn’t be judging without full understanding
  • Can have good school leaders let down by poor governance. Opposite also happens
  • In some schools senior leaders have little or no contact with governors. Not great for headship preparation
  • Many heads do not do governance training and do not understand the role
  • In one GB meeting the head brought so many staff that they outnumbered the governors
  • Part of the issue is the paucity of governance subject content in many NPQH courses. Starting with a low knowledge base does not help

The debate wasn’t live streamed and the only other tweet I saw was one saying that the motion had been carried. So, we don’t know the context to the motion or how the debate went. Governors would like to know more about what was behind the motion but want to make it clear that we do not wish for reduced accountability or reduced emphasis on governance within the leadership and management judgement. If the motion had called for induction for new governors and CPD we too would have been behind the motion. 

Governance matters in Ofsted’s Annual Report 2016

The Annual Report of Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Education, Children’s Services and Skills 2015/16 was published today. Below are extracts from the report which relate to governance.

A common set of values

Over the last couple of years, there has been a focus on a number of state-funded schools in Birmingham at the centre of the so-called ‘Trojan horse’ episode. In 2014, Ofsted found that there had been a concerted campaign by some people to impose a narrow faith based ideology on these schools and to alter their character and ethos. Since then the schools in question have undergone changes of leadership and governance and are now generally improving.

Capacity to deliver higher standards

Worryingly, schools are also reporting that they are finding it difficult to recruit headteachers. Two fifths of governors say they find it hard to recruit to senior staff posts.

70. Not everybody is content about the move away from national curriculum levels. Where a small proportion of governors reacted positively to the change, responses from our call for evidence on governance  showed that these were in the minority. Governors were clearly confused about the reason for the change and made the point that challenge was difficult when the yardsticks are internal rather than linked to a national system. The most common views given were either that the loss of levels was a step backwards, or that it had not been properly explained to them. The common perception was that the change made it difficult to understand school systems, how progress was measured and whether progress was good enough.

77. While the overall picture in maintained secondary schools is an improving one, with an increase of 12 percentage points since 2011, there has been a considerable fall in the quality of non-association independent schools serving secondary aged pupils since 2014. In 2014, the independent school standards were amended and strengthened. Since 2015, these independent schools have been inspected against the common inspection framework, which holds them to account in similar ways to maintained schools for the quality of their work. In 2015/16, 28 independent schools for secondary aged pupils declined from good or outstanding to less than good. Sixteen of these were faith schools. Common features in declining schools62 were poor leadership, management and governance. Because of poor monitoring of safeguarding practices and the quality of teaching, weaknesses were able to develop without intervention being taken. A failure to stay up to date with current requirements was frequently an issue. For many of the faith schools that declined, there were also concerns about the narrowness of the curriculum.

Disadvantage

100. Governing bodies play an important role in challenging senior leaders on the achievement of disadvantaged pupils. In our report on governance, ‘Improving governance’,we reported that over half of the 2,600 responses to our call-for-evidence identified a commitment and knowledge of the local community as an essential aspect of good governance. For those schools in deprived areas, improving governance involved working hard to understand the particular issues in the community and finding innovative ways in which to address disadvantage.

101. Actions taken by some of the survey schools to improve their understanding of and engagement with the community included:

  •  an audit of skills that included a ‘knowing the local community’measure
  • the recruitment of people who work in the local community who could relate information from school to families and vice versa
  • the recruitment of governors from small local firms and local religious organisations
  • encouraging parent governors to share information both from the community and to the community, and to contribute to higher aspirations.

Post-16 education and training

131. We inspected 82 general FE colleges in 2015/16. Most of the colleges that were previously good remained good following short inspection, but a large majority of those that previously required improvement or were inadequate did not become good. All of the colleges judged inadequate this year were characterised by systemic weaknesses in leadership and/or governance. Strengthening leadership capacity within the sector remains a priority.

Study programmes at level 2 and below

Case study relating to the discussion of

143. Long-term outcomes for students who do not reach level 2 are poor

At Derwen College, governors, the chief executive and senior managers have established a culture of very high expectations for all students. Staff reinforce very high standards across the college, at work and in the residences. Students at this independent specialist, residential college for young people who have learning difficulties and/or disabilities greatly enjoy their learning, their work experience and the social aspects of college life. Almost all make excellent progress in the development of their personal and vocational skills, and are very well prepared for life in modern Britain.

The challenges for post-16 education

167. General FE colleges have the potential to have the greatest impact in bridging this divide. Yet there are concerns that there is not enough leadership capacity within the FE sector to enable the improvement. This year, the effectiveness of leadership and management was judged to be good or outstanding in only 52% of general FE colleges. Of the 82 general FE colleges inspected in 2015/16, 28 (34%) were judged to require improvement and a further 12 (15%) were judged inadequate for overall effectiveness. Almost half of these colleges have performed poorly for many years. All of the inadequate colleges were characterised by systemic weaknesses in leadership or governance.

Special Schools

190. It is not surprising that the characteristics of highly effective special schools, whether independent or maintained, do not differ much from those for mainstream schools. Behind this are the aspiration, vision and quality of leadership and management at all levels, including governance. Outstanding special schools have leaders who are tenacious in their aim for high standards in teaching and learning. They are rigorous in how they check on the impact of the schools’ work on the progress and well-being of every pupil.

192 Perseid School is a happy and inspirational place. Pupils are keen to get off the buses when they arrive because they enjoy coming to school. External partners and other professionals recognise that leaders and governors are committed to ensuring that the school remains a centre of excellence that others can learn from. This has led to the school becoming the hub of a teaching school alliance and a valued training provider within the local area. Leaders and governors are continually looking for ways to make further improvements. They constantly evaluate how their actions are making a difference and draw on the advice of other professionals to confirm their findings. They will not compromise on the high standards of care and education provided throughout the school. For example, governors insisted that the local authority conduct a full review of health and care services to ensure that the diverse needs of the growing number of pupils attending the school could continue to be met. Consequently, all pupils continue to receive high-quality support to allow them to make outstanding progress. Parents say that they appreciate the support and the wrap-around care that is provided by all staff at the school. They miss it during the holidays because the school plays such a significant role in the lives of their children.

193. In good and outstanding special schools inspected this year, governors provided robust challenge and support. They held leaders to account rigorously for pupils’ progress and well-being. They were clearly focused on the responsibilities of the school to secure the highest outcomes for each young person in both their academic and personal development. Often, their governors included parents and experts from within education, social care and health who thoroughly understood the potential barriers that a disability or need might present to learning. They asked highly pertinent questions as to how well the school is doing, querying how specific interventions are working. For example, in a school specialising in providing for pupils with social and emotional challenges, they checked on how effective the schools’ behaviour management approach was and whether incidents had reduced over time. Where pupils’ primary needs were linked to communication and language difficulties, they checked carefully on pupils’ progress in these areas. They ensured that pupils had any additional technological aids and other resources they needed swiftly and staff had the training to use them.

A letter to Meadowgate School:

‘You have made significant improvements to the already outstanding quality of education provided in the school since the last inspection. This is because you are determined that each pupil shall achieve the greatest possible academic and personal success, and benefit from the highest standard of care and support. This commitment is shared by other leaders, including governors, and all staff. You and many of your colleagues have completed high-level research into techniques that best enable pupils to learn and make rapid progress.’

Learning and skills in prisons and young offender institutions

214. Governors are still not doing enough to ensure that education, training or work reduce re-offending and rehabilitates prisoners. In 13 out of 20 prisons, inspectors found governors did not provide enough activity places to ensure that all prisoners had good access to education, work or vocational training throughout the week. Prisoners waited too long before activities were available to them.

220. Of the 33 prison and young offender institution inspections of the National Careers Service provision, around two thirds provided good support for prisoners to understand their education, training and employment options on release. However, many prisons, governors and Offenders’ Learning and Skills Service managers did not work closely enough with the National Careers Service and local employers to ensure that learning and work activities linked closely enough to resettlement plans on release. There were too few opportunities for prisoners nearing the end of their sentence to gain direct work experience in the community.

Safeguarding

222. The vast majority of early years providers, schools and FE and skills providers take their safeguarding responsibilities very seriously and take action to keep pupils safe and well. However, there are exceptions. This year, 2% of maintained schools and 3% of providers in FE and skills were found to have safeguarding arrangements that were not effective. The proportion of independent schools where safeguarding arrangements were not effective was much higher, at 15%. Whether in the state-funded or independent sector, these weaknesses were the result of poor governance, leadership and management. Leaders failed to check whether their staff were actually complying with instructions and applying guidance as to how to keep children safe.

Safeguarding children and young people in schools and FE and skills providers

233. Weaknesses in any aspect of safeguarding bring with them serious concerns about the effectiveness of leaders, managers, governors or proprietors. The common thread in all provision where safeguarding was ineffective was a lack of rigorous oversight. This included leaders not regularly checking that they are fulfilling all of their responsibilities. Having policies is not enough. They must be put into practice, reviewed and evaluated.

237. In many of the independent schools where safeguarding was not effective, staff, leaders, governors and proprietors were not adequately trained in safeguarding or leaders were not checking that staff understood and were following up in practice the training they had received. Occasionally, individual members of staff had not received any training at all. Training alone is not enough. It cannot be assumed that it will automatically lead to a change in staff behaviour and practice.

Promoting British values and protecting pupils from the risk of extremism

262. After a period of intense focus on Birmingham from Ofsted and other agencies in relation to extremism, there have been some improvements. Two of the schools that were at the heart of the Trojan horse concerns (Nansen Primary School and Rockwood Academy, previously Park View Academy) are no longer in special measures and were judged good. We found strengths in leadership and management, including governance. Inspectors continue to consider carefully how effectively leaders and managers promote fundamental British values and keep pupils safe from the risks of extremism and radicalisation when inspecting all types of schools, including independent schools.

Capacity in the school system

270. England’s schools system continues to grow in diversity. Regardless of whether a school is an academy, an independent school or maintained by the local authority, the quality of the school depends on attracting and retaining the best teachers and leaders. The ability of a school to maintain its performance or to improve depends on the effectiveness of the oversight and challenge the school receives. This means that highly skilled governors, high-performing multi-academy trusts and active sponsors are more important than ever.

Leadership capacity

291. A recent survey of over 5,000 governors by the National Governors Association and the Times Educational Supplement found that over a third of respondents had reported difficulties when recruiting a headteacher. There was little difference in the views of governors of primary schools and secondary schools about the difficulties of headteacher recruitment. Over two fifths of governors said that they had found it difficult to recruit to senior staff posts.

293. In June 2016, inspectors visited seven strong-performing MATs to gather evidence about the characteristics of effective trust leadership and governance. Each of the seven MAT chief executives spoken to during these visits said they had clear strategies for identifying and growing leaders within their constituent schools. They identified potential leaders early on in their careers and were quick to provide opportunities for them to develop their leadership skills. Structured coaching and mentoring from experienced headteachers was often the norm. Some MATs provided their potential leaders with regular opportunities to shadow senior staff. They also encouraged leaders to take up secondments at other academies within the chain, when the time was right, to allow emerging skills to be applied in context and the confidence of new leaders to grow.

Governance

297. Governors play an important role in improving schools. As changes within the education system place more power in the hands of governing boards, their importance will continue to grow. Governing bodies are responsible for:

  • setting the school’s vision, ethos and strategic direction
  • holding the headteacher to account for the performance of the pupils, teachers and school
  •  ensuring financial integrity.

298. At the root of much school failure is weak governance. In the 2015/16 academic year, inspectors recommended an external review of governance in 295 schools, which is a third of all the schools judged to require improvement or to be inadequate this year.

299. This year, we carried out a survey report to look at the effectiveness of governance. Inspectors visited 24 recently improved schools in some of the poorest areas of the country. Neither the types of school, nor the structure of governance, were the reasons for the original weaknesses in governance. In order to improve, they needed to become more self-aware. Two thirds of the survey schools had not engaged in any self-evaluation of governance prior to being found to be less than good.

300. All of the boards needed to develop the professional knowledge, understanding and insight within the Board. However, over 1,600 responses to our call-for-evidence from governors told us that it is difficult to access high quality professional support and training. National Leaders of Governance and Professional Clerks are in particularly short supply. Boards also told us that they are finding it difficult to appoint people who possess the required expertise for the role and who are willing to take on the responsibility and be accountable . Around three quarters of respondents to the call for evidence reported that recruitment and retention were significant challenges for the sector.

301. In independent schools, there is no requirement for there to be a governing body. There is still a need for them to demonstrate sound governance, as for maintained schools. For some schools, this means that they have established a group of directors or advisers or a small group of named governors who are charged to oversee the leadership of the school and hold it accountable. In other schools, it is the proprietor or the proprietorial body that fulfils this role.

302. In all independent schools inspected this year where the school was inadequate, and in many of the schools that were judged requires improvement, governance was weak. Systems for holding leaders to account were underdeveloped. Those responsible for governance had had little training. They did not fully understand their responsibilities for holding school leaders to account, including ensuring that they continue to meet the independent school regulations.

Multi-academy trusts

309. This year, inspectors also visited seven of the strongest performing MATs to better understand what is working well.186 These visits showed the difference that effective MATs can make to the lives of pupils. Inspectors found executive leadership, with a proven track record of turning around failing schools. Leaders had a clarity of vision and the urgency to reach higher standards, particularly for disadvantaged pupils. There were clear, delegated frameworks of governance and intelligent use of assessment information so potential problems could be anticipated.

NOTE: Keep an eye out for Ofsted’s report on governance “Improving governance: governance arrangements in complex and challenging circumstances” which is due to be published mid December.

 

Ofsted feedback and draft report matters

Autumn term’s school inspection update has been published which has important messages for inspectors but these should be read by us all too. Sean has, very kindly, written about governors and the inspection feedback and access to the draft report which  will reassure governors. I’ve copied the passage below.

I have picked up that there are still cases where governor representatives who have not been present at the feedback meeting are being informed that the provisional judgement from the inspection cannot be shared with them. This is not the case. Every member of the appropriate governing authority of a school is entitled to know, in confidence, the inspection outcome, regardless of whether or not they attended the feedback meeting. Similarly, when the draft report is shared with the school, all governor representatives are entitled to see the report, along with relevant senior personnel as determined by the school.

Sean has previously answered governors’ queries about this and this topic has also been included in the inspections handbooks. Hopefully, this latest inspection update will finally lay this myth to rest.

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.