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Ofsted Annual Report
December 5, 2018
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Amanda Spielman presented her second annual report as Ofsted’s chief inspector this morning.

She used it to highlight improvement in overall FE outcomes in the face of funding pressures, as well as concerns that the apprenticeship levy isn’t being used as intended.

FE Week has the nine key findings for FE and skills providers.

  1. Full inspections are down but overall outcomes are up

Ofsted carried out 329 full and short inspections of FE and skills providers this year – down from 392 in 2016/17.

Of these, four per cent resulted in an ‘outstanding’ rating, 66 per cent ‘good’, 24 per cent ‘requires improvement’ and six per cent ‘inadequate’.

That means that 70 per cent of providers inspected this year were rated at least grade two – an increase of one per cent on last year’s outcomes.

FE Week revealed last month that full inspections carried out by Ofsted in 2017/18 plunged by a third. Read more

AOC Response to Ofsted’s Comments
November 26, 2018
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The boss of the Association of Colleges has told his members Ofsted is “quite right” after the inspectorate found some colleges risk giving students “false hope” by putting them on courses where there are slim job prospects.

Amanda Spielman, the chief inspector, drew gasps from delegates at the AoC conference this week when she questioned whether some colleges are chasing income over students’ best interests

She was referring to the inspectorate’s new report on level-two qualifications which found some subjects, namely arts and media, “stand out” as areas where there is a “mismatch between the numbers of students taking courses and their future employment in the industry”.

“Some students get a bit deflated and lose that momentum they built when they discover it is an impossible dream for most of them,” she said.

There was push back from the audience during a question-and-answer session, in which Grimsby Institute principal Debra Gray pointed out that the arts and creative industries contribute “£92 billion to the UK economy, two million people work directly in creative industries and three million work in allied professions where people are creative in non-creative businesses”.

“That doesn’t sound like an impossible dream to me, and it isn’t one that we sell to our students,” she told the chief inspector, before receiving a round of applause from the audience.

AoC chief executive David Hughes stepped in on the debate and said that colleges need to “face up to the fact”. Read more

Ofsted Asking FE Staff to Share Views on Provision
November 12, 2018
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Ofsted has introduced a new questionnaire asking staff for feedback about their FE provider.

The new questionnaire, published on 6th November and available from Monday, will be used in short and full inspections, but not monitoring visits.

Questions include whether staff are proud to be working at the FE and skills provider, if they think it is well led and managed, and whether managers are considerate to their staff’s well-being and workload.

According to the inspectorate, providers will be asked to inform their staff about the online questionnaire at the point of inspection.

The Further Education and Skills Inspection Handbook has been updated to reflect the introduction of the new document. Read more

Amanda Spielman Speech
October 12, 2018
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Ofsted’s Chief Inspector discussed the reasoning behind our proposals for the 2019 education inspection framework:

Good morning and thank you for inviting me to be here today.

I always like getting to the north of England – being from Scotland myself, it’s not quite all the way home, but it’s good to be here.

And this isn’t my first time with you here. I came to speak to SCHOOLS NE as Chair of Ofqual, back in 2015, when we had what I remember being an interesting and challenging morning – with a good discussion with Mike and several of you over lunch afterwards.

And it is always good to be out talking to a dedicated group of professionals. I know that in recent years, the collective efforts of schools in the North East have made a real difference to children’s education. And as I hope I said back in 2015, I am greatly impressed by the SCHOOLS NorthEast model. The level of engagement and support for local schools is clearly very high, and it is great to see how this group is promoting constructive discussion and acting as a catalyst for change.

I suspect a number of you were in the audience last month, when our Regional Director, Cathy Kirby, and her team were presenting an Ofsted update. Read more

Ofsted Admits Adding to ‘Teach-to-the-Test’ Mentality
September 24, 2018
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School inspectors in England have put too much weight on tests and exam results when rating schools, Ofsted boss Amanda Spielman has admittedAmanda Spielman

This has added pressure for schools to “deliver test scores above all else”.

Ms Spielman regrets the watchdog has not put enough emphasis on the “wealth of human knowledge” being passed on.

However, she promises that a new inspection framework – being introduced from autumn 2019 – will put much more emphasis on the curriculum.

What did she say about teaching to the test?

In a published commentary, the chief inspector says those working in education need to ask themselves “how we have created a situation where second-guessing the test can trump the pursuit of real, deep knowledge and understanding”. Read more

Ofsted is Going Digital!
September 11, 2018
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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
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This handbook describes the main activities Ofsted inspectors undertake when they inspect further education and skills providers.
Ofsted

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.

 

Documents

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

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