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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.



ESFA Confirm, Ofsted will Have the Final Say on Poor-Performing Apprenticeship Providers
August 22, 2018

In a move that was predicted by many in the sector, the government has decided that Ofsted will have the decisive say over poor-performing providers. 

They will now be expected to visit every new apprenticeship provider. They will receive £7 million in extra funding to make this possible.

According to the ESFA’s Removal from register of apprenticeship training providers and eligibility to receive public funding to deliver apprenticeship training’‘ updated today, any provider making ‘insufficient progress’ in at least one of the themes under review will be barred from taking on any new apprentices – either directly or through a subcontracting arrangement.

They can continue to work with existing apprentices, but must tell the employers, and any lead providers, about the monitoring visit outcome.

These restrictions will remain in place until the provider has received a full inspection and been awarded at least a grade three for its apprenticeship provision.

The ESFA can only overrule this guidance if it “identifies an exceptional extenuating circumstance”.

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

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

Ofsted Inspection Guidance Updated: FE & Skills Providers
May 25, 2018

Ofsted has updated their  “Full inspections of further education and skills providers” leaflet for providers. (23rd May 2018)

This leaflet outlines what Ofsted will look at during an inspection of a further education and skills provider, and can be used to help providers prepare for inspection after they have been notified, and covers the following topics:

  • Introduction
  • Which documents will the inspectors wish to see?
  • Seeking the views of learners, employers, parents, carers and staff
  • Online inspection survey
  • Privacy notice
  • Where can further details be found about further education and skills inspections?
    The Further education and skills inspection handbook explains how inspections are conducted and the judgements that are made by inspectors. It contains the grade descriptors used by inspectors when making their judgements.
    The Common inspection framework sets out the principles that apply to inspection and the main judgements that inspectors make.

For further help contact Ofsted’s Helpline: 0300 123 1231

Ofsted Research on Lesson Observation Models
May 24, 2018

In November 2017, Ofsted hosted an international seminar on lesson observation.

This paper describes the six observation models presented by attendees over the two days of the seminar, particularly the similarities and differences between them.
Three of the models are commonly used in the US, two are linked with European inspection systems, and the other has been developed for use across borders.
All of them have a research base that supports claims to their validity and reliability. The models are:

Read more

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