Ofsted’s Inspection handbook and subsidiary guidance was published yesterday and caused quite a stir! The Clerk to Governors very kindly did all the hard work for us and highlighted the changes in the Handbook and the Subsidiary Guidance. The first thing which caught my eye was the following additional paragraph in the guidance.
5. Do not insist that there must be three years worth of data, or that these data must show good progress or achievement, before judging a school’s overall effectiveness to be good overall. A school can be good if teaching, leadership and management, and behaviour and safety are good, and if there is sufficient evidence that progress and/or achievement of current pupils are good also. This is often the case when a school is improving from requires improvement, serious weaknesses or special measures. However, inspection reports must state clearly if this is the case.
Governors should also make a note of the Guidance where Floor Standards are mentioned as we need to be aware of these for our particular school.
The changes which have really excited teachers concern teaching styles. Andrew Old has commented on this here. The guidance says that inspectors must not give an impression that Ofsted favours a particular teaching style. It also makes the point that inspectors should not criticise “teacher talk” or always expect to see “independent learning”. Andrew makes a point that governors should make sure that their school’s teaching and learning policy reflects this guidance.
Then we come on to Behaviour. The Handbook states
49. Inspectors should must ensure that they observe pupils in a range of situations outside normal lessons to evaluate aspects of behaviour and safety, for example
- at the start and finish of the school day
- during lunchtime, including in the dining hall, and break or play times
- during assemblies and tutor periods
- when moving between lessons.
The fact that “should” has been replaced with “must” is very important!
The Guidance states,
68. ….. Often, the grade for behaviour and safety is a grade higher than overall effectiveness. Where this is the case, reports will be given additional scrutiny. Please make sure that sufficient evidence is gathered to warrant the grade awarded.
It goes on to state
72. Inspectors should also take account of identify disruptive behaviour of any kind. This may be overt, for example, persistent ‘shouting out’, or pupils ‘talking over the teacher’, or persistent‘arguing back’, or low level disruption , for example, through continuous chatter., not bringing the right equipment to lessons, not having books or doing homework, pupils arriving late to lessons, pupils chatting when they are supposed to be working together or pupils being slow to settle to their work and so on. It may also be more covert, taking the form, for example, of quiet refusal reluctance from a number of pupils to participate in group work or to cooperate with each other.
The above, in my opinion, has placed more emphasis on behaviour than was the case previously. As you can see inspectors are now required to observe students in different settings and identify disruptive behaviour of any kind. Again, this has implications for governors. Are we confident we know what behaviour is like in our school? How many of us know what behaviour is like when our students are being taught by supply/cover staff? In my experience that is when behaviour tends to be at its worst.
As far as governance is concerned, there aren’t that many changes to comment on. However, I will point out that the Guidance states that (this is not new)
102. Inspectors should meet with as many governors during an inspection as is possible
This is often not the case. Inspectors have been known to specify the number of governors they would like to meet. If you would like to take along more governors than the inspectors have asked for, stick to your guns and quote the above to them!
The part of the Guidance which deals with School judged as Requires Improvement has an interesting addition. Where governance in these schools is ineffective and specific issues regarding provisions for students eligible for pupil premium have been identified, then the Guidance states that an external review of the school’s use of pupil premium as well as an external review of governance should be recommended (para 107). In the past inspectors would have recommended an external review of governance with an additional focus on use of pupil premium. This emphasises how much importance is placed on the school’s use of pupil premium. This, again, is one of the issues we as governors need to come to grips with. We need to be absolutely certain we know how the school spends this money and the impact this has. The following additional paragraph highlights this.
109. Even where leadership and management is judged to be good, inspectors should use their professional judgement to determine whether a recommendation for an external review of the school’s use of the pupil premium would benefit the school.
So, leadership and management (which includes governance) may be good but inspectors may still recommend an external review of how you use pupil premium. For school placed in categories of concern, the Guidance states that
112.Where leadership and management is found to be inadequate and governance is weak or failing, the lead inspector will write, by means of an email, to the responsible authority…………. Inspectors should also consider that, whenWhen writing to the responsible authority, the recommendations for actions couldwill normally also include an external review of governance and may also include an external review of the school’s use of the pupil premium.
The addition of “by means of an email” is presumably to ensure that the responsible authority is made aware as soon as possible! It should be noted that recommendations for actions WILL NORMALLY include an external review rather than could include as was the case previously. Again, they may also recommend an external review of how pupil premium is spent.
So, although there wasn’t a great deal of change as far as governance is concerned, there is still enough there which we need to be aware of and take notice of.
A last thought. The Guidance has deleted the following
114. Unless a significant concern is identified, there is no need to spend excessive amounts of time checking policies and detailed procedures and protocols
Deleting the sentence that there’s no need to spend time checking policies, to me, looks almost like a double negative!
With thanks to Shena Lewington whose hard work made this post possible.