‘Ofsted’s new framework? It’s a mass of contradictions’

Accountability must, however, be proportionate, credible and above all else, trusted by those who are made accountable.

Ofsted’s newly confirmed framework does not pass these tests.

Leaders at the standards authority have made some welcome changes. The emphasis on pupils’ learning, personal development and extra-curricular opportunities is very positive. So is the genuinely improved tone and empathetic rhetoric being adopted.

Sadly though, an under-resourced inspectorate has set up a framework that allows schools to be judged in a matter of hours. This has led to an unsatisfactory new regulatory provision which does not serve parents or the system well enough.   

Under the new framework, schools will be judged in just a few hours by just a few inspectors. Snap judgements relating to complex areas such as quality of education, behaviour and the personal development of hundreds, and at times thousands, of pupils in a school will be made.  On top of this, safeguarding – in all of its hugely multi-faceted guises – will be assessed.

Then schools will get a blunt grading and short report.

More contradictions arise as “outstanding” schools remain exempt from inspection, while “inadequate” schools are found by inspection teams. As one parent pointed out, “If a school needs to be put into special measures, isn’t that a bit late?”

These are just a few of the questions that arise:

If a school is located in an area where it cannot attract high-quality teachers in enough numbers, should it be penalised by a low Ofsted grading?

If a school serves a catchment area with disproportionately high numbers of SEND or disadvantaged pupils, should it be judged on exactly the same criteria as other schools which have markedly different intakes?