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New Ofsted Framework for Governors

Rob Merino, Head of Governor Services at One Education, looks at the new Ofsted framework from a governor’s angle.

As governors will be well aware, Ofsted published a new inspection framework which has formed the basis of inspections since September.  The new framework brings with it a number of changes: 

  • Outstanding schools are no longer exempt from inspections
  • Section 8 inspections will now last two days
  • All inspections will begin with a 90 minute telephone call from the lead inspector during which the head and inspector will have a professional dialogue and facilitate planning for the inspection
  • The four judgements areas have changed to:
    • The quality of education
    • Behaviour and attitudes
    • Personal development
    • Leadership and management
  • The overall effectiveness will be based on the four areas above and will also include a judgement about early years in primaries
  • Safeguarding remains the golden thread which runs through everything. 
  • When looking at the quality of education judgement inspectors will be focusing on
    • Intent: Curriculum design, coverage, appropriateness and delivery
    • Implementation: Teaching and learning (pedagogy) and reading
    • Impact: Attainment and progress (including national tests and assessments) and readiness for the next stage of education
  • Inspectors will not look at internal data. Instead they will ask leaders, at various levels, what they understand about progress and attainment in the school or subject and will then say ‘let’s see that first-hand together.’ They will focus on what is being taught and learnt through lesson visits, work scrutiny and conversations with learners
  • Ofsted’s ‘deep dives’ mean that they will have discussions about the quality of education with school leaders, pupils, teachers and curriculum leaders. Their visits to lessons and their scrutiny of pupils’ work will be connected to these discussions

Martin Matthews, local Chair of Governors and National Leader of Governance has provided us with an overview of his experiences of the new Ofsted inspection regime:
I’m long enough in the tooth to remember when an Ofsted inspection prompted a “deep dive” into school cupboards to ensure all the tat had been thrown away. 

Being one of the first schools locally to have a two-day section 8 inspection under the new framework I thought I would share how it worked and what happened for governors.
Our turn as governors was the afternoon of day two. We had a thirty-minute time slot but it turned out to be closer to an hour. Half our governing board could make the meeting, we had a range of all categories of governor ranging from 3 months to thirty years service. Everyone was invited. 

Armed with my SOAP (school on a page) and a copy of the SEF it was undoubtedly the best natured and most humane inspection I have been through. There was no issue with referring to paperwork and the prompts we had written proved immensely useful

The broad questions we were asked are as follows;

What training have governors done and what training can they access?

What are your school priorities?

How do you as a GB ensure the priorities are moved forward?

How do you ensure staff wellbeing?

What do you hope Y6 have achieved by the time they leave?

How do you meet the equalities act?

How do you ensure safeguarding is met?

How do you ensure HT wellbeing? 

I have to say this was significantly different to previous inspections. It was a far more narrative discussion rather than interrogation. The conversation around each question ranged into SEN, attendance, attainment, well-being of staff and senior leaders. The conversation went where it went and all governors contributed.
The kicker was always “can you give me an example?”

The feedback meeting is more important than ever as much of what is said does not make it into the final report. The new reports are much shorter and like our ‘conversation’ meeting it’s a mixture of many aspects of school blended together. 

My advice to all governors is ditch the idea you need to memorise statistics and numbers. Above all know your school as a living breathing organism, understand how each area interacts with others and tell the inspectors all the good things you do.

One Reply to “New Ofsted Framework for Governors”

  1. Interesting article.
    However, I believe that your first paragraph “Outstanding schools are no longer exempt from inspections” is incorrect, assuming you mean routine inspections.
    Whilst it is true that at some point Ofsted inspections for outstanding schools is due to be reinstated, this is not a) a consequence of the new framework, or b) it has happened.
    Currently, paragraph 16 of the School Inspection Handbook says:
    “16. Maintained primary and secondary schools and academies that were judged to be outstanding in their overall effectiveness at their most recent section 5 inspection are exempt from routine inspections under section 5. ”
    It would require an Act of Parliament for “Outstanding schools are no longer exempt from inspections” to happen, as this exemption is part of the law.
    Outstanding schools were always able to be inspected by Ofsted if they had concerns regarding performance, and this continues for now.

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The author

Rob has led Governor Services for six years. Before joining One Education, Rob had an extensive career in local authority service management and delivery, followed by a number of years as a programme and change management professional. As Head of Governor Services, Rob provides advice, guidance and support to Headteachers and Governors across the region, and has taken part in the national All Party Parliamentary Group on governance.

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