For the purposes of this update the word 'schools' should be interpreted as including academies.
The New Education Inspection Framework (EIF)
The new EIF now replaces the common inspection framework from September 2019 for early years settings, schools, further education institutions and skills providers, and independent schools.
Under the new EIF inspectors, will make graded judgements on the following areas using the four-point scale*:
- quality of education
- behaviour and attitudes
- personal development
- leadership and management
The introduction of the new EIF does not change the law, but it does signal a significant shift in inspection approach which those responsible for governance of a MAT, an individual academy or a maintained school need to be aware of.
Whatever the school context, those responsible for governance must understand their role and carry it out effectively. In addition to ensuring the school fulfils its statutory duties relating to equality, safeguarding and promoting the welfare of learners, those in governance should hold leaders to account for the quality of education or training.
Leaders will also be expected to effectively manage staff and take account of pressures placed on them, and effectively engage with learners and in their community, including parents, carers, employers and local services. Schools are advised by the DfE to update any bookmarks or links.
New Safeguarding Handbook
Ofsted has updated its 'Inspecting safeguarding in early years, education and skills settings' handbook and this has been effective from September 2019.
This is primarily for Ofsted inspectors’ use, but will be relevant to academy schools preparing for Ofsted inspections.
The content, on the whole, remains the same as the current version of the inspection handbook, but far more emphasis has been placed on the need to protect children and learners from sexual violence and harassment, county lines and risks linked to using technology and social media.
All academy schools dealing with safeguarding matters should review the guidance as a checklist to ensure they are handling the response appropriately and be able to demonstrate compliance if the DfE requests Ofsted undertakes an inspection.
Ofsted Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Statement
Ofsted has updated the EIF equality, diversity and inclusion statement.
The statement sits alongside the new EIF documents and sector-specific handbooks. It explains how Ofsted fulfils the duties placed on it by the Equality Act 2010 and public sector equality duty when it exercises its functions as an inspectorate.
While the changes to the document, on first review, appear to be minor, Ofsted seems to be broadcasting a strong message that it expects inspectors to be proactive in their investigations in order to assess whether all learners have equal access to high-quality education. This should be viewed as Ofsted discouraging schools from offering a limited curriculum to pupils with special educational needs and/or disabilities, removing low-attaining pupils from the school roll in order to protect the school's examination results or separating pupils by reference to sex, race or faith unless the separation is permitted by law.
Academies may wish to review current arrangements, curriculum policies, equal opportunities policies and accessibility statements in light of the update.
Ofsted Parent View
Parent View is an online survey which allows parents and carers to give their views about their child's school. It can be completed at any time by parents - it does not have to be completed when the school is undergoing inspection, although it is the main mechanism by which inspectors obtain parents' views at the time of an inspection.
Updates to the Parent View survey have also been effective from September 2019 as the questions asked of parents and carers change to link more closely to the new education inspection framework. Some questions have been added, for example, questions about children with SEND.
Summary Evaluation of Multi-Academy Trusts (MATs)
Ofsted made changes to the way it reviews MATs in January 2019. This approach involves a number of inspections of individual academies within a MAT, which take place within a period of two terms, each resulting in an individual Ofsted inspection rating and report. Once the inspection process has finished and reports published, a small team of inspectors meet with MAT senior leaders to evaluate the MAT as a whole. This is called a summary evaluation.
Summary evaluations are not inspections and Ofsted does not have the power to insist MATs engage with the process. This is made clear in Ofsted's operational note for inspectors: Summary evaluations of multi-academy trusts.
The relevance to the school compliance framework is in relation to the new section 5 inspection handbook, for use from September 2019, which clearly states that inspectors will seek evidence of the impact of those responsible for governance during inspection. Inspectors will expect to speak to one or more of the trustees during an inspection, even if the trustees have chosen to delegate some of their powers to members of an 'academy committee' or 'local governing board' at school level. They will wish to establish which powers are with the trustees, which are with the leaders of the MAT and which are with the local governing board. This will inform both inspection activities, and be reflected in the inspection report and findings.
The DfE has said it will be keeping the content on GOV.UK about the previous framework and inspections until October 2019. After which, they will be available on the National Archive.