News support feature: New arrangements for inspecting schools
In January this year, Ofsted changed the way it inspects schools in England (including academies and free schools). The new approach aims to increase our impact on school improvement.
Our new Chief Inspector, Sir Michael Wilshaw, plans to consult on further changes to inspection of maintained schools from September 2012 to raise expectations even more. We will provide an update on these and any other changes in future editions of Ofsted News. For the rest of this academic year we will continue to inspect using the approach outlined below.
Why change school inspection arrangements?
We have refined the way we inspect to focus on the issues that parents and carers tell us are most important, and to challenge schools to continue to improve. In addition, the new inspection reflects some important changes set out in legislation through the Education Act 2011.
We have now focused our judgements on four areas:
- the achievement of pupils
- the quality of teaching
- the behaviour and safety of pupils
- the quality of leadership and management.
When considering the overall effectiveness of the school, inspectors take into account all of these areas, including the spiritual, moral, social and cultural development provided for pupils, and how well the education provided by the school meets the needs of the range of pupils at the school, in particular, pupils with a disability and/or special educational needs.
Making parents’ views count
We want to give parents and carers the opportunity to make their voice heard when it comes to their child’s school. Taking on board the views of a panel of parents, we launched a new online questionnaire called Parent View in October 2011. Parents can rate their child’s school on a range of issues, including the quality of teaching, bullying, behaviour and levels of homework. There is a final question asking whether or not parents would recommend the school to other parents.
Once a small number of surveys are completed, the results for the school are visible in Parent View although individual responses are not. What parents tell us through these surveys is part of the information Ofsted inspectors use when making decisions about which schools to inspect and when.
Pupil achievement is one of the key issues we examine. In judging achievement, we look at pupils’ levels of attainment when they join the school, the progress they make during their time at the school through to the standards they reach by the time they leave, compared with all pupils nationally.
In our new inspection approach, inspectors spend even more time in classrooms observing lessons. They look at how well pupils are learning and how effectively teachers assess and give feedback to children on their work. Inspectors focus closely on how effectively literacy and numeracy skills are taught, talk to pupils about their work and, in primary schools, inspectors will also listen to pupils read. We continue to listen to the views of parents, pupils and staff by inviting them to complete questionnaires. Inspectors provide feedback to teachers and other staff about the quality of the lessons observed and give points for improvement, where appropriate.
Behaviour and safety
We judge how well the school manages pupils’ behaviour and attendance and promotes and ensures their safety from bullying and harassment. Particular attention is given to pupils’ attitudes to learning, as well as to their conduct in lessons and around the school. Inspectors take into account the views of pupils, staff, parents and carers, and governors to get a view of what behaviour is typically like at the school.
Leadership and management
Good school leadership is essential if a school is to perform well. Inspectors judge the effectiveness of leaders and managers of the school, (including, where relevant, governors) in improving the quality of teaching and learning, raising standards and ensuring the health, safety and wellbeing of pupils at the school. They judge how well leaders and managers ensure that the curriculum meets the learning needs of the pupils and how effectively they lead and manage school improvement.
Inspectors use a four-point grading scale to judge the quality of education provided in a school:
- grade 1: outstanding
- grade 2: good
- grade 3: satisfactory (we will shortly be consulting on whether to change this grading to ‘requires improvement’)
- grade 4: inadequate.
The vast majority of schools receive up to two working days’ notice of an inspection (although we will shortly be consulting on moving to ‘no-notice’ inspections). Following the inspection, the lead inspector writes a report about the main findings of the inspection. The report is published on the Ofsted website and the governing body (or appropriate authority) are asked to send a copy of it to all parents and carers of pupils at the school.
The main inspection documents, and a short video of former Chief Inspector Miriam Rosen introducing the new arrangements for school inspection, are available on the Ofsted website and listed under the Resources below.
To visit the Parent View website, where you can register and submit your views on your child’s school, visit: http://parentview.ofsted.gov.uk/.
Ofsted’s Annual Report 2010/11, which highlighted a number of concerns about the quality of teaching in our schools, is available on the Ofsted website and listed under the Resources below.