Commenting on the launch of Ofsted’s consultation today (16 Jan) on how it inspects schools, early years settings and further education and skills providers:
Dr Mary Bousted, Joint General Secretary of the National Education Union, said
“Ofsted makes bold and ambitious claims for its new inspection framework, but the National Education Union remains deeply sceptical about whether these will be realised.
“The uncomfortable truth for Ofsted is that the practices it deplores - the narrowing of the school curriculum and teaching to the test - have been the results of its own enforcement, through inspection, of a range of narrow measures to judge school quality.
“None of these narrow accountability measures are being abolished. Schools will still be measured on the percentage of their pupils following the EBacc, GCSE results, progress 8 and attainment 8.
“Added to these quantitative measures, Ofsted intends to make qualitative judgements on the curriculum. Ofsted’s own research shows that those HMI doing the trial inspections asked how they could make curriculum judgements in the time available for inspection. How complex, detailed, value-laden judgements will be made consistently across England’s 20,000 schools is the fundamental question – and one that Ofsted cannot answer.
“Ofsted’s reputation as a reliable arbiter of school quality is gravely damaged. Government ministers are well aware that Ofsted judgements on schools are overwhelmingly based on the characteristics of their pupil intake rather than the education they provide.
“The NEU believes that there is no more time to tinker with Ofsted. England needs a new system of school accountability – one that keeps good teachers and school leaders in the profession, working to improve the life chances of our children and young people.”
Mark Dawe, Chief Executive, Association of Employment and Learning Providers, says:
"Ofsted have taken a sensible and welcome approach which recognises the reality that most skills training takes place in the workplace and the importance of the combination of different types of training rather than fixating on one aspect.
"AELP strongly supports the emphasis on curriculum, education and training. Data is important for day to day monitoring but shouldn’t be the only thing that Ofsted look at and so we approve of the new approach being adopted. But we all must be mindful of the risks of relying on inspectors’ opinion and qualitative judgement rather purely quantitative evidence. Ofsted are very aware of this and they need to ensure they have the appropriate expertise for each type of inspection.
"Devolved AEB provision will remain in scope and we believe that this is an appropriate safeguard and indicator for the awarding of future contracts."
Speaking at The Sixth Form Colleges Association’s Winter Conference Anne Milton, Minister of State for Apprenticeships and Skills, said:
"Amanda will be talking about Ofsted’s proposals for the new Education Inspection Framework. I am pleased that this event was chosen to launch it. It helps in rebalancing the scales to give greater weight to the FE sector. My department has worked closely with Ofsted as it has developed its proposals – I encourage you all to respond to the consultation, and take this opportunity to shape the final framework."
Dawn Jotham, Pastoral Care Specialist from EduCare, said:
"The whole education sector is eagerly awaiting details of Ofsted's planned revised inspection framework in the hope that it will remove the pressure from schools which is causing such manipulation of reports.
"EduCare will be releasing a full review of the new framework and how it impacts on a school’s training requirements as soon as details are released."
Secretary of State for Damian Hinds, said:
"Ofsted plays a critical role in our system and its inspection of schools, colleges and early years providers has helped drive up education standards across the country. Their inspections give confidence to parents and provide necessary accountability for institutions.
"We have been working closely with Ofsted as it develops this new framework and will continue to do so to make sure we keep raising standards.
"Since I took this post a year ago I’ve made cutting down unnecessary and bureaucratic workload my top priority. Accountability is vital. But we know that perceptions of what Ofsted wants have unintentionally contributed to unnecessary workload - so the fact that this framework addresses this is a hugely positive step forward for all our schools.
"As we have improved the curriculum and reformed GCSEs and A levels, we have been fully united with Ofsted in our drive to ensure all children and young people benefit from an ambitious, broad and balanced curriculum. This framework reflects that approach and our continuing activity around exclusions and ‘off-rolling’.
"I welcome this consultation as Ofsted reaches out to teachers, lecturers, early years providers, parents and leaders though the most comprehensive framework development in Ofsted’s history."
A DfE Spokesperson said:
"The new framework reflects many departmental priorities – such as the importance of the EBacc to a well-rounded education, as well as early literacy. These proposals emphasise the shared vision of Ofsted with the Department going forward.
"Another key element mentioned in the framework is the need to combat the issue of ‘off-rolling’. It is not acceptable for schools to remove pupils outside of the formal exclusions system, and we are in the process of a review into exclusions, being led by Edward Timpson.
"We want to see all schools provide an ambitious, broad and balanced curriculum for their pupils, and Ofsted’s proposed changes will complement our performance measures and our ambition."