Guidance for parents on what the Ofsted consultation is asking

Parentkind has taken each question in the Ofsted consultation and set out what information they are looking for, suggesting some questions parents may wish to consider when answering each one. Remember to use the free text boxes to add any additional comments if you have any thoughts related to the question that don’t directly answer it.

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1. To what extent do you agree or disagree with the proposal to introduce a ‘quality of education’ judgement?

Ofsted intends to judge schools using many of the same criteria they currently use, but they will take a view of the whole school, rather than judging different aspects of teaching and learning in isolation. There will be a shift away from judging a school mostly on performance data (such as how well its pupils achieve in exams and in Progress 8 scores) and towards the substance of what children are taught as well as how much progress they make in their learning, which will mean looking closer at each school’s curriculum. Ofsted defines curriculum as: “the substance of what is taught. It is the specific plan of what learners need to know and should be able to do. [It…]  is the framework for setting out the aims of a programme of education, including the knowledge and skills to be gained at each stage (intent); the translation of that framework over time into a structure and narrative, within an institutional context (implementation) and the evaluation of what knowledge and skills learners have gained against expectations (impact/achievement).” What do you think Ofsted should look for in school leadership and in the design and teaching of the curriculum? How much of a holistic view of the school's merits do you believe you and other parents have? Have you noticed any narrowing of the curriculum (this is where schools may teach fewer subjects, or devote less time in class to a wide appreciation of the subject, in order to focus on what pupils need to know in order to achieve good grades in examinations – also known as ‘teaching to the test’)?

2. To what extent do you agree or disagree with the proposed separation of inspection judgements about learners’ personal development and learners’ behaviour and attitudes?

‘Behaviour and attitudes’ concerns pupils' behaviour at school on a day-to-day basis, which is something that Ofsted will judge a school on. Do pupils turn up on time? Is bullying recognised and dealt with? Are pupils courteous to one another and to teaching staff? Is there a shared sense of pride and community? On the other hand, ‘personal development’ relates to how pupils interact outside the school environment in the wider world. Have they developed confidence and resilience? Do they know how to keep physically healthy? Do they understand British values and the rule of law? Are they ready to leave school and go into further education or join the workforce at the end of their time as a student there?

In answering this question, consider if you think Ofsted is correct to separate out these two judgements, which are both connected to how pupils present themselves and cooperate as part of a social group. Which parts cross over? Should schools be judged for their pupils' behaviour, attitudes and development in general?

A key quotation from the Schools Draft Handbook is: “This judgement considers how leaders and staff create a safe, calm, orderly and positive environment in the school and the impact this has on the behaviour and attitudes of pupils.” For more details, see pages 51-58. 

3. Early years (registered provision)

This question may be relevant for parents who also have a pre-school child up to the age of five who is attending early years provision. If you do, you may wish to comment on what you believe your child should learn and how they should be taught during this phase of their education, and if you think that Ofsted is right to put greater emphasis on curriculum when inspecting providers teaching the Early Years Foundation Stage.

If you only have school-aged children, you may leave this question unanswered. See paragraph 131 of the Early Years handbook for more information on how to answer this question, if relevant.

4. To what extent do you agree or disagree with the proposed focus of section 8 inspections of good schools and non-exempt outstanding schools and the proposal to increase the length of these inspections from the current one day to two days?

This question is relevant if your child attends a maintained (state-funded) school or an academy. When schools are graded ‘outstanding’ or ‘good’, their next inspection is currently one day rather than the standard two day, and they are not inspected under the usual range of graded judgements but will instead receive one of four outcomes where the school will be subject to a full inspection shortly afterwards if inspectors find evidence that standards have slipped to ‘inadequate’.  The one-day inspection acts as a check to ensure the school is maintaining a good standard. Ofsted is proposing to extend the inspection of previously ‘good’ schools to two days, which is the standard inspection length. Do you think increasing the inspection time of ‘good’-rated schools would give you as a parent the reassurance you need that Ofsted’s inspections are thorough and accurate, or do you think that Ofsted’s resources would be better channeled elsewhere, and schools previously rated ‘good’ should continue to receive a one-day inspection? What advantage would a one- or two-day inspection provide for parents? Is Ofsted right to look out for examples of malpractice such as off-rolling (the removal of pupils from the school roll when it’s in the interests of the school rather than the pupil, such as to prevent less academic pupils from impacting upon a school’s Progress 8 or Attainment 8 scores).

5. To what extent do you agree or disagree with the proposed introduction of on-site preparation for all section 5 inspections, and for section 8 inspections of good schools, on the afternoon prior to the inspection?

Currently, inspectors may assess performance data off-site before arriving at the school to carry out the observational aspect of their inspection. Ofsted is instead proposing that an inspector is present on school grounds during the analysis of performance data on the afternoon before the inspection so that there is better communication between school leaders and the lead inspector. Would having at least one Ofsted inspector on site for longer benefit parents? Should parents have an opportunity to meet Ofsted staff the afternoon before the inspection?

6. To what extent do you agree or disagree with our proposal not to look at non-statutory internal progress and attainment data and our reasons why?

Ofsted will not use school’s internal data for pupils because it risks increasing teachers’ workloads and inspectors will not be able to verify whether or not the data is accurate. As a parent, do you value the assessment information the school collects on your child’s progress and achievement? Do you think it is accurate? Do you have concerns about teacher workload in terms of gathering performance data? Is enough performance data shared with you to keep you informed about your child’s educational strengths and weaknesses? 

7. Non-association independent schools - To what extent do you agree or disagree with the proposal that inspectors should normally use the non-specialist curriculum as their primary source of evidence in assessing the extent to which the school meets the quality of education criteria?

There is a separate handbook for the inspection of non-association independent schools, and is only relevant to parents whose child attends such a school. You can skip this question if you don’t think it applies to you or you don’t want to comment.

8. To what extent do you agree or disagree that where non-association independent schools have been found to improve or decline at an additional inspection, Ofsted should provide up-to-date judgements about the school’s current performance?

There is a separate handbook for the inspection of non-association independent schools, and is only relevant to parents whose child attends such a school. You can skip this question if you don’t think it applies to you or you don’t want to comment.

9. Further education and skills. To what extent do you agree or disagree that the proposal to reduce the types of provision we grade and specifically report on will make our inspection reports more coherent and inclusive?

Is your child entering college, thinking of taking T-levels or an apprenticeship, or some other form of technical or vocational training? If your child is studying qualifications other than A-levels between the ages of 16-19, this question may be relevant for you, and there is a separate handbook for the inspection of further education and skills providers. Should Ofsted concentrate their inspection reports on specific types of educational provider for 16-19 study programmes? Is the focus for ensuring the inclusivity of those with special educational needs or disabilities (SEND) beneficial? 

You can skip this question if you don’t think further education applies to you (if, for example, your child is studying in a school setting) or you don’t want to comment.

10. Under the current common inspection framework, Ofsted carries out short inspections of most good further education and skills providers.... To what extent do you agree or disagree with the proposed model for short inspections? 

There is a separate handbook for the inspection of further education and skills providers. Should Ofsted continue with short inspections of ‘good’ providers? Are inspectors right to give greater focus to the quality of education and training, safeguarding and effective management? Should lead inspectors spend longer on site? 

You can skip this question if you don’t think further education applies to you (if, for example, your child is studying in a school setting) or you don’t want to comment.

11. To what extent do you agree or disagree that the timescale within which providers that are judged to require improvement receive their next full inspection should be extended from ‘12 to 24 months’ to ‘12 to 30’ months’?

There is a separate handbook for the inspection of further education and skills providers. This question applies to the provision of further education at 16-19 by colleges. If the question is relevant, consider whether or not you agree with Ofsted that extending the timescale within which providers judged ‘requires improvement’ is a good idea because it provides them with more time to improve. Ofsted’s monitoring visits between inspections will continue. If you agree or disagree, consider adding comments to the free text field at the end of the question. 

You can skip this question if you don’t think further education applies to you (if, for example, your child is studying in a school setting) or you don’t want to comment.

12. Inspection of colleges at campus level - Please use this box to record any additional comments in relation to the detail set out in the further education and skills draft inspection handbook.

There is a separate handbook for the inspection of further education and skills providers. If your child is studying a technical or vocational qualification between the ages of 16-19, and you believe there is a question Ofsted has not asked, or an issue relating to this you believe should be addressed, you can expand upon it in this section, and add your comments to the free text box. 

You can skip this question if you don’t think further education applies to you (if, for example, your child is studying in a school setting) or you don’t want to comment.

13. Is there anything you would like us to improve or do differently for future consultations? If so, please tell us below.

Are there questions that you believe Ofsted should have asked in this consultation relating to issues around the inspection of schools and colleges that have not been addressed? What could Ofsted do to improve their future consultations in making them more accessible to you as a parent? Enter your thoughts in the final free text box.

Edu-speak glossary

  • Curriculum – “the substance of what is taught. It is the specific plan of what learners need to know and should be able to do. [It…]  is the framework for setting out the aims of a programme of education, including the knowledge and skills to be gained at each stage (intent); the translation of that framework over time into a structure and narrative, within an institutional context (implementation) and the evaluation of what knowledge and skills learners have gained against expectations (impact/achievement).”
  • Narrowing the curriculum - schools may teach fewer subjects, or devote less time in class to a wide appreciation of the subject, in order to focus on what pupils need to know in order to achieve good grades in examinations.
  • Off-rolling – removing pupils from the school register for the benefit of the school rather than the pupil. 

See also our how-to guide for responding to Ofsted and the videos from Ofsted's Sean Harford

Respond to our Ofsted survey

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