There was a real sense of delight in Andrew Old (@oldandrewuk) blog post, just before Christmas, “A Christmas Miracle – Ofsted Get it Right for Once”
I hope I’m right in inferring from the various twitter conversations that Andrew has long been campaigning for appropriate recognition, within the Ofsted framework, of high quality lessons that are teacher led and more “traditional” in nature. I’ve read a number of his posts based on Ofsted reports promoting the alternative view.
The amendment seems eminently sensible but this is not simply about teachers talking more but how teachers can enhance students’ learning through strategies such as direct instruction and better mediate students’ understanding through high quality input and questioning.
I wondered about whether to write this post or not as there is the real danger of appearing as the pantomime villain. In no way do I want to denigrate the work that Andrew Old and other colleagues have done in securing the amendment within the Subsidiary Guidance but I simply don’t think Ofsted have got it right yet.
Why Have All These Different Grades?
The table below was produced from data presented at a recent ASCL Conference summarising the inspection of one in seven secondary schools for Summer Term 2013. This is a huge number of inspections and a very substantive database. Note the almost identical percentages for overall effectiveness, achievement and the quality of teaching, now taken as over time which effectively equates to examination results as a proxy for achievement.
The much more positive gradings for Behaviour & Safety have been met with the following response from Ofsted in the latest Subsidiary Guidance (highlighting obviously mine):
I read this quite simply as make sure the Behaviour & Safety grade is the same as the rest, Leadership & Management will surely follow. The one interesting thing for the future is that inspectors are now expected to comment separately on behaviour and safety with the lower grade dictating the overall grade for the section. For example, safeguarding is good but behaviour requires improvement produces a “requires improvement” grade overall.
You have to question why five different grades appear in the report, when in essence the Achievement grade drives the whole process and there is now going to be even greater alignment of grades than ever before.
Outcomes Nationally, Safeguarding Locally
This post is not an argument for no accountability, in an earlier post, Reflections of an Apprentice 2040 Visioner, I accepted that as an education system we had deserved Ofsted because we failed to accept fully our responsibilities for educating, to a sufficiently high standard, all young people. To mis-use a quote from Andy Hargreaves, the point at which we failed to accept our responsibilities as a profession was the point that Ofsted stepped in to hold us accountable. However, the perverse and now corrosive impact of Ofsted has long since stopped serving a purpose and a different Accountability framework is needed.
The new “Progress 8” measure in secondary schools and end of Key Stage 2 tests have the potential to spawn a whole new industry in “data dashboards”. Ofsted’s role should be limited to scrutiny of a school’s outcomes, which at a secondary level has already been given as: one grade above expectation in the Progress 8 measure meaning no inspection visit the following academic year and more than half a grade below expectation means prepare the room for the inspection team!
Safeguarding needs to be dealt with at a local level on an annual basis with a simple “effective safeguarding” or “not effective safeguarding” outcome. The latter would lead to a monitoring plan and on-going checks until safeguarding was judged effective.
Separate to the desktop exercise on Progress 8, we need regional teams, operating within a national framework, but separate from Ofsted composed of highly experienced and well regarded HMIs and Lay Inspectors who have two areas of responsibility:
I would like to nominate @MaryMyatt and @Heatherleatt – their blogs show an immense amount of common sense and balance – to lead on this but I’m biased.
A national minimum benchmark needs to be set about what is acceptable and the system needs to work to ensure all schools reach this standard within a five to ten year time period, at which time the bar can be raised. Genuine improvements in learning and standards need to be reflected in improved examination outcomes – no artificial raising, lowering or maintaining of pass rates. Remember the 100 metres hasn’t got shorter, people are just running it faster and the same can be true in education.
When Will Ofsted Get it Right?
Oftsed will get it right when they stop inspecting teaching, behaviour and leadership & management. What amounts to a total of three days in a primary school (two inspectors for one and a half days) or about seven in a large secondary school doesn’t provide sufficient evidence to make far reaching conclusions that can sometimes damn or laud a school inappropriately. The idea that inspections produce typical behaviour, from school leaders, teachers or students, just isn’t right and the snapshot is too blunt an instrument in terms of teaching and behaviour to continue to be used.
Issues of teaching and behaviour are for determination by schools not Ofsted. A school’s approach to these will impact on Achievement which should be monitored nationally and schools held accountable. Don’t forget students and parents will make judgements about the quality of teaching & behaviour in a school every day so there isn’t exactly a shortage of accountability on these issues.
My 2014 advice to Ofsted is simple, “Oftsed when you are in a hole, stop digging!” It’s time for a new approach.
If you want a slightly more light-hearted perspective on Ofsted why not try Auld Land Syne #Ofsted Style by @TeacherToolkit and make sure you listen to the irrepressible @RachelOrr in fine voice.
Tom Sherrington’s view of Ofsted I wholeheartedly agree with and you can read it as part of his post, Taking Stock of the Education Agenda: Part 2.
However, if you are expecting that call someday soon there are some Ofsted Resources here that you might find useful, that is, until the revolution comes, brothers and sisters.
This is one of a series of posts on producing an Ofsted Self Evaluation Form. First of all, my disclaimer:
“I have no special insight beyond that gleaned from reading the School Inspection Handbook and Subsidiary Guidance. This is not by way of a disclaimer, although maybe it should be, but it is also to invite others to add comments and suggestions to this work and help improve it for others.”
In evaluating Behaviour & Safety there are a number of different elements that need consideration:
Attendance & Punctuality of Students
This is about “impact not effort”. Whilst this can be very frustrating for schools, particularly in challenging circumstances, who are quite literally doing everything they can, it is part of the increased demands of this framework.
Comparisons are made between the school’s data, taken from RAISE, and national averages – the median trend line for school’s FSM level doesn’t seem to get a look in. Data from the last three year’s including on persistent absence is analysed including sub-groups. The Subsidiary Guidance for 2013 gives a figure of 94.24% for primary schools and 92.61% for secondary schools as “consistently low” and anything below or approaching that should ring alarm bells (these are the figures below which a school would be in the bottom 10% of schools in terms of attendance).
Inspectors will be looking at whether any particular sub-group’s attendance – FSM Ever 6 (mostly your pupil premium students) and SEN in particular – is below national average and whether there is a link then to underachievement. Important to cross reference sub-groups attendance, also behaviour in terms of exclusion data, with level of achievement in part one of your SEF.
Attendance data in RAISE is based on the first two terms and two and a half terms for special schools so may be different from any whole school data you hold. During the inspection the team will want attendance data for the day and may look at the attendance so far that year compared to the same period the previous year.
Behaviour for Learning in Class and General Behaviour Around the School
This is all about preparing a positive climate for learning within the classroom and whether students behave appropriately and safely around the school at break, lunch and lesson change over. The key data is again in RAISE and needs looking at both as a whole school and for sub-groups. The data is a year behind in RAISE so inspectors won’t have access to the previous year’s exclusion data nor obviously the current year’s so you will need to include this in your analysis. Over time I’ve looked at exclusions in various ways but these are the measures used by Ofsted. The measures used mean that a lot of short term exclusions, a day or two, will produce a much higher figure for a school than fewer long term absences even though the total number of days of exclusion might be the same. There doesn’t seem to be a test of “statistical significance” within RAISE so this might be worth looking at if your data is a bit higher than average. This might be particularly so for permanent exclusions where one in an academic year would take you above the national average in a medium sized secondary school.
Exclusion Measure = (a/b) x 100
|Fixed term exclusions as a percentage of the total school roll/sub- group||Number of fixed term exclusion episodes||Total number of students on roll/in sub- group|
|Percentage of students with 1 or more fixed term exclusions||Number of students during the year with 1 or more fixed term exclusions, including those enrolled during the academic year||Total number of students on roll/in sub-group|
|Permanent exclusions as a percentage of the total school roll/sub-group||Number of students with permanent exclusion||Total number of students on roll/in sub-group|
“High exclusion figures, and particularly for repeated exclusion of the same pupils, are not consistent with good behaviour … High exclusions, overall or of a particular group of pupils, are likely to indicate ineffective systems and structures to support pupils, including basic behaviour management to prevent low-level disruption.”
Ofsted Subsidiary Guidance
Whilst I have no particular angst or argument with the inference above, my concern is that, it is only one of a number of valid inferences that could be drawn from relatively high exclusion data. What is your school’s response to a student hitting another student or swearing at a member of staff – exclusion in one school versus a detention in another? If a school repeatedly exclude a student for unacceptable behaviour but kept going with them as opposed to another school that rather too quickly moved a difficult student on, should the former be penalised? Whilst a balanced view from a lead inspector of one team may look at the nuances within the data another team may stick to the clear line taken in the Subsidiary Guidance. It is best to be forewarned.
In addition to the data from RAISE inspectors will be looking for your analysis of rewards, detentions, on-call systems and internal exclusions. They may also request data on students taken off role and reasons for them leaving. I’ve included a “points lost per student” section as we, like many schools, use a points system to both log inappropriate behaviour and reward good alongside other aspects of a rewards programme. It is useful to compare data for both Pupil Premium students and SEN against whole school data – is there a gap you need to close?
The inspectors will try to make a judgement on behaviour over time. Staff, student & parent voice all play a strong part in coming to this decision so you need to include this supporting data in your SEF.
Learning Behaviours in Class
This is an element that often catches teachers, leaders and schools out. What are the learning behaviours of your students in class like? This is linked to their “thirst for knowledge and a love of learning” which has a strong impact on progress. This judgement is taken across into the quality of teaching judgement. If you look at the first couple of bullet points (note they are put first in the lists) in the outstanding and good descriptors for Behaviour & Safety below you can see that learning behaviours are differentiated from behaviour for learning and behaviour around school because they are different distinct elements.
Our school’s learning behaviours would be categorised under the 5Rs – Responsible, Resilient, Resourceful, Reasoning & Reflective learners but we are poor at collecting this data. Inspectors will make this judgement as part of lesson observations and learning walks. How would you describe the learning atmosphere in your classes – dynamic or passive? Much has been said about inspectors not looking for a particular style of teaching, the descriptors mention independent, group and whole class work, but it is not too difficult to envisage:
This is borne out in comments in a number of inspection reports around where they see outstanding teaching.
Schools and teachers need to think about including high quality collaborative work into the direct instruction framework and high quality challenge and clear direction into group and independent work irrespective of Ofsted. These are a few of my favourite things that I will blog about another time.
How Safe Students Feel Particularly with Respect to Bullying and E-safety
Schools are expected to keep records of bullying incidents and their responses over time including adaptations to PSHE, additional training for staff and potentially changes to systems and processes, Staff, parent and student voice in particular can be used to identify and address issues or evidence how safe students feel.
“This includes cyber-bullying and prejudice-based bullying related to special educational need, sexual orientation, sex, race, religion and belief, gender reassignment or disability.”
Ofsted Subsidiary Guidance
Spiritual, Moral, Social & Cultural
This section can be a rich source of data in so many ways for yourself, and inspectors, to gather evidence of the Spiritual, Moral, Social & Cultural development of the students. You are far more able to gather data over time than an inspection team can in two days so make sure you highlight it in this section of the SEF.
As part of the gathering of data inspectors request a series of short written accounts about the successes of individual students who are a member of a sub-group. Whilst these sit beyond the SEF it is important to have these ready.
In coming to a decision it is helpful to justify to yourself, senior leaders, governors and staff, as objectively as possible:
You Can Download Versions of the #Ofsted SEFPlanner – Behaviour & Safety below:
Other posts in the #OfstedSEFPlanner series include:
If you are looking for more assistance on preparing for Ofsted the following might be useful: