Select Committee on Education and Skills Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


APPENDIX 18

Memorandum from OFSTED

IMPROVING INSPECTION, IMPROVING SCHOOLS

  I am now writing to let you have details of the decisions made in the light of the very full consultation on school inspection arrangements from 2003. These outcomes owe much to the quality of discussion during the consultation period, and the large number of written responses we received. We are very grateful for the efforts made, at a very busy time, which have enabled us to draw on such a wide range of views.

  I am enclosing a summary of the outcomes on each consultation issue. It refers back to the issues set out in detail in our consultation paper. If you have not kept a copy, the consultation paper can still be found on our website (www.ofsted.gov.uk) by following the link to consultations.

  Also on the consultation page of the website is a fuller announcement giving more detail about consultation responses, issue by issue, and explaining the thinking behind our decisions. The full MORI report on the 9,000 written responses to consultation is also available from that source. If you would like a hard copy of the announcement or the MORI report please write to Sheila Scales at the address above or e-mail [email protected]

  Consultation discussions demonstrated widespread agreement on two underlying issues.

    —  Inspection has improved significantly since the first round, and those who have experienced more recent inspections were most likely to find it a positive, though challenging, experience. I am not complacent, but it is encouraging that the next stages of reform can build on these good foundations.

    —  Inspection can be supportive without losing rigour and objectivity. Schools value a clear and objective analysis of strengths and weaknesses, and the chance to discuss it with an impartial observer who can draw on a wide range of professional experience. It is a powerful aid to development for individual teachers and for schools as a whole. It is what the best inspectors do now. It does not mean inspectors turning into advisers.

INSPECTION MODELS

  The decisions we have taken about inspection models respond to messages from consultation. In nursery and primary schools, high standards in core subjects are important but they are not enough. Pupils are entitled to a wide range of subjects and experiences and we want inspection to reflect and encourage that. We also need to look in more detail at a sample of work in our best primary, secondary and special schools. They generally welcome inspection, and can furnish us with evidence of good practice to share more widely. The attachment describes in outline new primary and secondary inspection models. We shall be working further with an expert working group, which includes many experienced headteachers, on the model for special schools and PRUs.

SCHOOL IMPROVEMENT AND INSPECTION

  Our discussions have also shown widespread support for developing more consistent and rigorous school improvement processes in all schools—bringing together self-evaluation, resource and development planning, staff development and performance management (both of individual staff and of the school as a whole). This was not a consultation issue but we signalled in the consultation paper our intention to increase our support for effective school management, working jointly with NCSL and DfES. This will be the main focus of a further working group, which involves headteachers and local authority advisers.

CONCLUSION

  I am sure that the decisions we have taken offer a stable foundation for the next round of school inspections, and the flexibility to address future changes. Our system of independent and rigorous school inspection has been a powerful force for higher standards. I hope you will continue to work with my successor to develop and maintain an inspection system which can continue to play its vital role in the years to come.

Mike Tomlinson

Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Schools

24 January 2002

FUTURE ARRANGEMENTS FOR SCHOOL INSPECTION: A SUMMARY OF OUTCOMES

Issue 1: A school-selected issue

Issue 2: Choice of inspection model

Issue 3: A form of short inspection for all primary schools

  For primary and nursery schools, we shall look at the core and a small sample of foundation subjects in the large majority of schools, but extend coverage to most if not all subjects in less effective schools. All schools will also have the option to choose one subject or aspect.

  For secondary schools, we shall look at the core subjects and a small sample of others in the most effective schools, and most if not all subjects in others. All schools will also have the option to choose one subject or aspect.

  For nursery, primary and secondary schools, we shall ensure that the most effective schools normally have an inspection only once every six years, while others are inspected more frequently. The interval between inspections will be determined in the light of the evidence of the previous inspection, as well as pupil performance figures. Schools emerging from special measures will be inspected, as now, two years later, as will those found no longer to have serious weaknesses.

Issue 4: Special schools and Pupil Referral Units (PRUs)

  We shall develop with our working group proposals for a flexible model to meet the specific inspection needs of special schools and PRUs.

Issue 5: Reporting on a consistent basis to parents

  We shall ensure that concise and readable summary reports are provided after each inspection, designed to meet the needs of parents and pupils.

Issue 6: Post-inspection meeting between parents and the headteacher and governing body

  We shall continue to encourage schools to involve parents regularly on important issues, including holding meetings to follow up the outcomes of inspection. We shall also explore the most effective ways of seeking parents' views before and during inspections.

Issue 7: More serving teachers and headteachers on inspection teams

  We shall develop and publish a strategy for increasing the number of inspection teams involving serving school staff.

Issue 8: Improving feedback to individual teachers

  We have already stopped providing profiles of teaching grades for individual teachers, and shall take further steps to improve feedback including allowing more time for it under the new inspection arrangements.

Issue 9: Making better use of parents', governors' and headteachers' views

  We shall establish and publish clear procedures for dealing with requests for inspection from parents, governors and headteachers.

Issue 10: Using questionnaires to survey pupils' views

  We shall explore the most effective ways of securing pupils' views before and during inspections, and trial new approaches with both primary and secondary age pupils in all types of school.

Issue 11: Asking schools to invite the pre-inspection views of their partners

  We shall encourage schools as part of the new arrangements from September 2003 to assemble views from their partners to feed into inspection, and also ensure that partners know how to contact inspectors directly if they wish to do so. We shall work with schools and inspectors to try out ways of doing this in advance of 2003, to avoid unnecessary bureaucracy.

Issue 12: Refreshing the pool of lay inspectors

  We are determined to widen the pool of lay inspectors and make it more representative. We shall take steps to recruit and train new lay inspectors, and consider in the light of experience what further steps may be needed to ensure their use on inspection teams.

Issue 13: Joint work with DfES to reduce bureaucracy

  We shall continue to work actively with DfES. We recognise the concerns of schools and share their desire to keep the demands of inspection and associated paperwork to a minimum, while maintaining an effective and rigorous inspection system.

Issue 14: Extending survey and pilot inspections to count as statutory inspections

  We shall allow pilot and other inspections to count as statutory inspections where it makes sense to do so.

Issue 15: Linked inspection of groups of schools

  We recognise that this is a complex area. We shall take some obvious early steps to inspect closely-linked schools at the same time, and test and evaluate possible further options for joint inspection.

Issue 16: A common start date for new arrangements

  We are planning to introduce new arrangements for all types of school in September 2003.

OFSTED

January 2002



 
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