Parents: key highlights of Ofsted changes

14/05/19

The results are in!

You have probably heard that the way Ofsted inspects schools is changing from September, after they invited feedback on their fresh ideas. We’re delighted to see that 605 individual parents/carers took the time to have their say and respond to the consultation directly. On top of that, you may have taken our survey so that we could respond on behalf of parents and provide Ofsted with tangible evidence of what parents think. It was by far the most responses Ofsted has ever received, which goes to show how important school inspections are to parents, teachers and other education professionals.

What do the changes mean?

Some things are staying the same, but there are a few key changes to the way Ofsted operates that parents will want to know about.

Staying the same

  • Ofsted is keeping the 1-4 grading system. Schools will still attract the overall rating of Grade 1 (Outstanding), Grade 2 (Good), Grade 3 (Requires Improvement) or Grade 4 (Inadequate). The majority of parents responding to our survey indicated that they preferred this grading system to others we proposed.

Changing

  • We tentatively welcome news that Ofsted reports will become shorter and easier to digest. They say this is to “give parents the key information they need to know about a school and a sense of how it feels to be a pupil there.” We haven’t had sight of the new format yet, so we stop short of giving it the thumbs up for now, as we know how crucial the reports are to parents (and 12% of respondents to our survey said they didn’t find the current reports easy to understand).
  • A new ‘quality of education’ key judgement will be introduced, which 82% of our survey respondents told us they agreed with, because it puts the emphasis on curriculum rather than exam results. We look forward to seeing how well schools collaborate with parents on this.
  • A new ‘personal development’ judgement will look at how a school helps its pupils to develop character, resilience and values so they are equipped to succeed in life. This will be judged separately from a judgement on ‘behaviour and attitudes’ (81% of our survey respondents approved of separating the judgements). Ofsted will look at whether or not school leaders tolerate bullying or harassment of pupils and staff, as well as judge whether or not they deal with behavioural problems swiftly and effectively while maintaining a calm environment. This is another development where it’s important to see how well schools collaborate with their parent community, especially when it comes to changes to existing policies.
  • Inspections of previously-graded ‘good’ schools will be extended to two days (apart from for small schools of under 150 pupils). We know this was a point of concern for parents, and the majority who took our survey agreed with the proposed increase from one to two days.
  • Schools found to be ‘off-rolling’ pupils are likely to be judged ‘inadequate’ (76% of our survey respondents agreed that it was important that Ofsted clamps down on this practice).
  • Ofsted hopes that these changes will reward schools appropriately, and acknowledge where head teachers and teachers are working under difficult circumstances, such as where the pupils at the school may be predominantly from lower socio-economic backgrounds.

Parentkind is disappointed that the wording of the parental engagement bullet point which is part of the ‘Leadership and Management’ section of the new school inspection handbook has not been changed from the draft version to clarify what is meant by “drawing boundaries and resisting inappropriate attempts to influence what is taught and the day-to-day life of the school”.

For more detailed information, see our consultation response to Ofsted, as well as Ofsted’s new school inspection handbook

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