Questions over Ofsted plans to set bar for new inspections

Ofsted is using an unrepresentative sample of schools to set the bar for how it will grade schools under its new inspection framework, Tes can reveal.

The inspectorate has said it will use the findings of pilot inspections to try to ensure the overall proportion of school inspection grades remains roughly the same as they are now when its new regime is launched from September.

So far, just 54 pilot inspections have been conducted, of which “nearly all” were of schools “judged to be ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’”. Another 120 are planned but Ofsted says they are “unlikely” to include any “inadequate” schools.

Ofsted’s director of corporate strategy Luke Tryl indicated that Ofsted would also make allowances during the first year. 

“We know that for many schools their plans for next year’s curriculum is already set in stone,” he told Tes. “There will be a recognition in the handbook that particularly in the first year we are more interested in the trajectory a school is on in terms of its curriculum.”

Commenting on social media, teacher Mark Enser questioned whether Ofsted would grade a set number of schools as being “good” irrespective of the inspection findings.

“Does “keeping the grade profile in line with now” mean that even if the new framework reveals that fewer schools are actually good or outstanding, you will have to pretend they are to fill a quota? How will that work in practice?”

Luke Tryl replied “Not to do with quotas, but through training benchmarking where good etc are so profile remains same. Rationale is we didn’t want to raise bar on good and change focus at the same time. But of course within that schools will move up/down in line with new framework.”

However, Nick Brook, the deputy general secretary of the NAHT headteachers’ union has questioned whether Ofsted should be trying to predetermine the overall spread of inspection results.

He said: “Some leaders may take comfort from hearing that the proportion of schools to be judged good or better will not change between frameworks, however, this does beg some bigger questions about inspection itself. “

“I think trying to ensure that a particular number of schools are good or outstanding is a dangerous precedent to set. It sets us on a dangerous path where inspectors’ findings are not what is determining the outcomes.”

Read more views about the inspections Questions over Ofsted plans to set bar for new inspections

Please tell us your thoughts in comments or vi Twitter ~ Tamsin

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