The new Ofsted inspection framework is putting increasing pressure on members, particularly primary subject leaders and this is due to problems with school funding and staff recruitment which the new framework does not take into account.
The National Education Union has called for routine Ofsted inspections not to resume until the end of the pandemic. We believe that any inspections taking place at this time will be unsafe, unnecessary and unfair.
January 2021 update
On December 3 2020, the Government announced:
- Routine Ofsted inspections will resume in the summer term. There will be no graded inspections of schools or colleges before April.
- Monitoring inspections of all maintained schools graded “inadequate” and some graded “require improvement” will take place during the spring term. Monitoring visits to colleges will resume in January.
In an announcement to MPs on 6 January 2021, Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said Ofsted monitoring visits in the Spring term would have “a strong focus on remote education” and invited parents to report their concerns about their child’s school’s remote learning provision to the inspectorate. This is a disgraceful and unhelpful attempt to stir up conflict between parents and schools at a time when everyone is doing their utmost to ensure the best education provision to pupils in unprecedented circumstances. It is far from clear that Ofsted has the expertise or capacity to “inspect” remote learning provision, provision which schools were given no notice by Government to implement. Read our response to Williamson’s announcement here.
Under pressure, the Government announced on 12 January that all inspection activity would be carried our remotely until half term. While this is a welcome improvement, the NEU believes that in light of the renewed closure of schools to most pupils, Government and Ofsted should announce now that all inspections – routine inspections and monitoring visits – will remain suspended until at least September.
Given the ongoing need to ensure the Covid-security of our school and colleges, it is not realistic for routine inspections to resume. Leaders are working flat-out to ensure the safety of staff and students. Teachers and TAs are working hard to ensure continuity of teaching and learning amid the disruption. Ofsted inspection in a Covid-secure manner will be a time-consuming distraction. This year is comparable to no other and any inspection judgements reached during this time will be meaningless. The Government and Ofsted must provide urgent clarity to head teachers.
The NEU is also urging head teachers to continue to suspend all in-school accountability activities, such as lesson observations, learning walks and drop-ins that schools are not legally or contractually required to undertake, during this academic year. More guidance is available here.
Guidance on Ofsted additional monitoring inspections
During the spring term, Ofsted HMIs are carrying out monitoring inspections of schools and colleges previously graded inadequate or requires improvement.
The inspections are currently taking place remotely, until at least March 8 2021.
New Ofsted framework
The new Ofsted framework puts the curriculum centre stage of Ofsted inspections. The National Education Union (NEU) thinks that the new framework has been badly prepared, with poor research, inadequate internal scrutiny and an unrealistic timetable for implementation.
The NEU has produced new guidance on Ofsted that we think will help members and leaders dealing with inspections in their schools.
Members should share the guidance with their heads and suggest that this issue be discussed in staff meetings. If you are a school leader, in a school where teachers have cross-school subject responsibilities without TLRs or non-contact time, please see the school leaders' guidance.
If you would like to share your experience of the new framework with Ofsted, please contact us using the Ofsted framework feedback form. We are particularly interested in how the new framework is impacting on your workload, especially if you have whole school subject responsibilities.
The new Ofsted inspection framework is focused on the quality of the school’s curriculum, and as a school leader, you have difficult decisions to make to balance staffing with budget in your school.
NEU has released guidance advising members of their rights during “brutal” Ofsted inspections. The guidance advises members on their contractual responsibilities in light of the new framework.
Ofsted visits in the autumn term will be a distraction for schools rather than a support.
Chief Inspector recognises the work of school leaders in the face of the pandemic but needs to go further to best stand up for schools.