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Ofsted is Going Digital!
September 11, 2018

This blog by Sean Harford will look at the way Ofsted inspects education, from early years to schools and the further education and skills sector. It will update you on developments and feature current issues.

I hope everyone enjoyed their summer holidays and that you are all now comfortably settling into the new academic year.

This is often a time for introducing fresh ways of doing things – including here at Ofsted. This autumn term our inspectors are starting to collect evidence on a digital platform, rather than recording all their notes using pen and paper.

We’ve developed a new electronic evidence gathering (EEG) tool, which will make the collection and sharing of inspection evidence much more efficient. Beginning this month, we will be gearing up to use this new tool on over 8,000 inspections annually.

As you probably know, inspectors currently capture evidence on handwritten forms. These forms are collated by the lead inspector and sent to our evidence collection centre, where they are scanned and stored electronically. Let’s be honest, this is all a little bit 20th century. So, in line with many other public sector organisations, we decided the time was right for Ofsted to embrace modern technology in ways that make the very best use of our resources. Read more

Further Education and Skills Inspection Handbook
September 5, 2018

This handbook describes the main activities Ofsted inspectors undertake when they inspect further education and skills providers.

It sets out the main judgements that inspectors will report on. It can also be used by providers and other organisations to inform themselves about inspection processes and procedures The handbook is to be used alongside the Common inspection framework: education, skills and early years’.

The mythbuster document sets out facts about Ofsted’s requirements and dispels myths that can result in unnecessary workloads in colleges.



Blog by Ofsted Inspector Chris Jones, HMI, Specialist Adviser for Apprenticeships
August 15, 2018

In the following blog Chris Jones HMI, Ofsted’s specialist adviser for apprenticeships, blogs about the changing framework, apprenticeship standards and how to record the progress that apprentices make.

The Institute for Apprenticeships is increasing the number of apprenticeship standards available to employers and apprentices.

These changes have been introduced alongside the apprenticeship levy. At present, when an apprenticeship standard isn’t available, apprentices complete the technical and vocational qualifications relevant to an apprenticeship framework

Now, a new model of apprenticeship is emerging and the structure is changing, as I wrote about in a previous blog. This approach is much more occupationally specific and is directly linked to the needs of employers.

Most apprenticeship standards don’t contain qualifications. They focus on the knowledge, skills and behaviours expected of the apprentices. An end-point assessment, specific to the apprenticeship standard, validates the standard.

Apprenticeship frameworks

We know that many frameworks will disappear in 2020. Apprenticeship standards will replace the frameworks as part of the apprenticeship reform programme. Most apprentices work at levels 2 and 3, with around 11% of apprentices working at level 4 and above. The proportion working at higher levels is increasing because over 40% of standards are for higher and degree level apprenticeships. For areas like business administration there is no replacement apprenticeship standard at level 2.

It’s clear from the range of frameworks that are still available, that many apprentices working at levels 2 and 3 will continue to work towards an apprenticeship framework for some time, and hence will continue to complete nationally recognised qualifications. Providers and inspectors can compare qualification achievement rates and look for patterns and changes to help them decide how well apprentices are doing.

Because most apprenticeship standards have no qualifications, inspectors and providers must be clear about the different ways of measuring achievement. As inspectors, we need to consider what these changes mean for inspection practice. Read more

Ofsted Launches Point-in-Time Surveys
July 10, 2018

Ofsted has issued its annual point-in-time online surveys for children’s homes, fostering agencies, adoption agencies, adoption support agencies and residential family centres.

The surveys are for children, parents, foster carers, adopters, staff and other professionals.

Ofsted inspectors want to hear what they have to say about the establishment or agency. Their responses will help inform future inspections.

Ofsted is asking for responses by 17 August 2018.

Establishments and agencies should provide a link to the surveys to everyone on Ofsted’s behalf.

Alternatively, anyone wishing to offer their views can contact Ofsted on 0300 123 1231 (select option 5 and then option 2) or email enquiries@ofsted.gov.uk.

If you’re a provider, have a look at the guidance about social care surveys, including a promotional poster.

Ofsted will run surveys for boarding schools from 1 October until 9 November 2018.

Amanda Spielman’s Speech to the Policy Exchange Think Tank
July 10, 2018

The Chief Inspector discussed the importance of promoting British values in schools and Ofsted’s role in making sure this is done well. 

Delivered on: (Transcript of the speech, exactly as it was delivered)


The title of this speech, ‘The Ties that Bind’, is not an original phrase. And indeed, as soon as the invitations for this Policy Exchange event went out, we had a call from an understandably bemused Lords Committee clerk wondering why they had not been consulted, because their Committee on Citizenship and Civic Engagement published a report with this title earlier this year, and for which one of my colleagues gave evidence. So, apologies to Lord Hodgson and his eminent fellow peers – I had not then seen their excellent report, though I have now read it with great interest.

And of course a great deal of overdue thinking and discussion has happened in many quarters in recent years on the difficult subjects of community cohesion, integration, citizenship and British values, by minds far more distinguished than mine. Indeed, when I took up the job of Chief Inspector, I hardly imagined this was a subject I would be spending quite so much time on. But having spent 18 months in what is a fairly hot seat at Ofsted, I have seen quite how much these challenges directly affect our schools.

That is my topic this evening: to explore why the promotion of British values is important in encouraging cohesion and integration, and so why responsibility for promoting them must fall to our schools. And I also want to talk about Ofsted’s role in making sure that schools do this well.

Taking a step back for a few minutes, it was the experience of living and working in the United States, more than 20 years ago, that made me recognise how much the development of a society, and the formation of its public policy, is driven by the values that underlie that society. Even though the UK and the United States are more similar than most, I came to realise how different their underlying values and assumptions were, and still are. And I’m not talking about guns and abortions here – I was most struck then about things like the welfare settlement, and the idea of what education is for. The version of egalitarianism that has been the bedrock of NHS provision and of the English state school system for many decades looks quite strange to many American eyes. And I was genuinely surprised back then by how very differently the word ‘liberalism’ was perceived in America. All this made me look back at and think about Britain in a whole different way.

Read more

Amanda Spielman’s Speech at the Wellington Festival of Education
June 25, 2018

The following is the transcript of the speech made by Amanda Spielman exactly as it was delivered

Thank you for that kind introduction.

It is an absolute pleasure to be back at Wellington for what I think is my fifth time, and for my second as Chief Inspector. Speaking here last summer was one of the highlights of my first year. That speech was a chance to set out what I want to achieve as Chief Inspector, and just as important, it prompted an enormous amount in the way of feedback, engagement and ideas. If I had any doubts that there is a real enthusiasm and appetite in the sector to help shape Ofsted’s future, speaking here dispelled them.

That is the way it should be. Ofsted isn’t just about bringing in the great and the good to give the benefit of their wisdom to others. Doing that assumes that education is static and uniform. While it can be helpful to identify good practice, we also know that an approach which worked at a specific time in a specific school won’t necessarily work well everywhere else.

For that reason, Ofsted absolutely should harness the expertise from the exceptional former leaders who make up our HMI workforce and at the same time make sure that we continue to learn from the sector. We need to keep a direct link with those still in the game, living school life day to day. That’s why I’m so proud of our Ofsted Inspectors, who include more than 1,100 serving practitioners, who give up their time to carry out inspections. It’s why I, and so many of my team, attend events like this. And it’s why, despite the occasional frustrations and incivility of the Twitterverse, we put so much effort into our digital presence as well.

It was that collaboration and engagement that informed the Ofsted strategy we launched last autumn. Through the strategy, we have committed ourselves to being a force for improvement, through intelligent, responsible and focused inspection and regulation. I am determined to make sure that the strategy is one that doesn’t just go dusty on a shelf, but actively informs everything we do.

I want to spend some time telling you about what we’ve been doing, under each of the strategy’s 3 strands.

Read more

Ofsted Will Keep its Four-Point Grading System – For Now
June 22, 2018

Ofsted will stick to its current four-point grading system in its new inspection framework – putting an end to rumours that it would opt for a simpler pass-or-fail system.

Instead, the status quo will remain in its 2019 framework, its chief inspector announced in a speech at the Festival of Education at Wellington College.

Options will be kept “under review” looking further ahead, Amanda Spielman said.

She is working with the Department for Education to “see the removal of the ‘outstanding’ exemption”, which currently allows education providers to go more than a decade without inspection.

Before her appointment in 2016, Ms Spielman said she was uncomfortable about some of the effects on the education system of the ‘outstanding’ grade, and claimed Ofsted under her watch would have “discussions” about scrapping it.

“I know that there are some who would like Ofsted to abandon grades altogether or to move to a pass/fail model,” Ms Spielman told the audience.

“For me, that is a decision which must squarely be decided on the basis of whether the current grading system meets our mission of being a force for improvement.

“We will keep this under regular review. But we’ve concluded, on balance, that it is right to maintain the current grading system in the new framework and that is the basis of the discussion I’m having with ministers now as we engage with them on the new framework as a whole.

Read more

Ofsted Blog: Building Confidence, Encouraging Aspiration
June 13, 2018

Sean Harford blogs about how Ofsted assesses the effectiveness of careers guidance on offer.

As exam season comes to a close and results season approaches, many households around the country will be waiting for that slip of paper or email telling them how their young person did and what opportunities are now open to them. It’s an exciting couple of days and the breakfast broadcasts will be full of young people opening those envelopes live on air.

It’s the culmination of a lot of work. By the young person and of course, their teachers. But many organisations and support structures have also contributed to their success and provided advice for what comes next. Parents, local employers, higher education institutions and further education colleges, the Careers and Enterprise Company, the National Careers Service and many others have all played a part in supporting these young people to, hopefully, work hard and make the right decisions for their futures.  Part of Ofsted’s role is to assess the effectiveness of the careers guidance offered.

How we inspect careers guidance

We don’t have a preferred style of careers education, information, advice and guidance (CEIAG) for schools, colleges and other education providers we inspect. We do expect, as a standard, that young people will be offered CEIAG that includes guidance on their subject choices, discussion on their career aspirations and how they can achieve them and how they’re progressing towards this. Work experience and guidance on a vocational or academic path and routes post-16 whether those be A levels, training or vocational education should all be available. Read more

Amanda Spielman at the Bryanston Education Summit
June 7, 2018

Ofsted’s Chief Inspector discusses the future of school inspections, how we use data and ongoing work on a new education inspection framework.

Delivered on: (Transcript of the speech, exactly as it was delivered)

Amanda Spielman, Chief Inspector, close-up

Thank you for inviting me here today.

My speech has been billed as “Developments in Education and Inspection”. A rather broad title, which quite possibly reflects the fact that I hadn’t settled on the topic by the time your programme went to press, and I wanted to keep my options open. Sometimes, genericism does have its advantages.

In fact the choice of topic turns out to be rather apt, given recent developments. Some of you will have seen the NAO [National Audit Office] report on the value for money of our school inspections, published last month. That follows a number of welcome interventions clarifying the role of different actors in the accountability and school improvement landscape. And of course we are currently developing our new Education Inspection Framework which we will be using from September 2019 and which we will be consulting on from January.


All of which means that now is the right time for us to consider not just how we carry out our inspections, but also to ask the more fundamental questions of what school inspection is and who it is for.


It’s easy to forget that the Ofsted of today is a very different organisation to the inspectorate that existed just 15 years ago.

Teachers who have qualified in recent years would hardly recognise the Ofsted model of old. Inspections involved a large team of inspectors who would visit schools for a week. Inspection teams would have within them a wide range of subject expertise, allowing us to comment on individual subjects typically in reports of 50 pages or more.

Read more

Blog by Ofsted Inspector Anita Pyrkotsch-Jones
May 31, 2018

In the following blog Anita Pyrkotsch-Jones, Her Majesty’s Inspector and national lead for careers guidance and youth engagement, she describes on a four-day further education and skills inspection.

I’m a member of a seven-strong team on this inspection of a general further education college. We report to the lead inspector and inspect different aspects of the common inspection framework. This includes 16 to 19 study programmes and adult learning programmes.

I’m responsible for inspecting two key judgements: the quality of teaching, learning and assessment, and personal development, behaviour and welfare.

Initial team meeting

I’ve had my pre-inspection meeting and gathered all my background material. At the first team meeting, the lead inspector discusses inspection processes with us and the college nominee, who is a member of the senior management team, and we agree a timetable of activities. The principal gives a short presentation about the college and improvements made since the last inspection. Read more

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