As many educators are now aware, the new Ofsted Inspection Framework is likely to be implemented from September 2019. After the watchdog launched a consultation on the proposed framework, Dawn Jotham, EduCare’s pastoral care specialist, considers what educators need to be aware of when it comes to safeguarding the wellbeing of both staff and students.
Amanda Spielman, Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector, discussed the driving force behind the proposed changes in her speech to the SCHOOLS NorthEast summit last year. Spielman claimed that Ofsted needs to work on being “a force for improvement” and ensure that it reaches its full potential. Currently, Ofsted’s working practice have only increased the pressure on school leaders, teachers and ultimately, pupils, to deliver perfect data through test and exam results. If the proposed changes are to be believed, Ofsted’s new framework will seek to rectify this.
But what do these changes mean for schools and how might they impact the work of educators on a practical level?
The proposed changes may be significant, but there are crucial factors of consideration that have the potential to impact the lives of students lying behind the new framework. One of these is equality. Spielman expressed her belief that the proposed update should help protect children and young people from disadvantaged backgrounds, or those who are living with a disability or learning difficulty. As Ofsted hasrecognised, those who start their journey of education with a disadvantage of any kind are more likely to be adversely affected when schools place too much emphasis on performance measures and data. The new framework will seek to redress that imbalance, while considering safeguarding measures and increasing a focus on ensuring students experience a safe learning environment free from discrimination.
Educators will also need to continue to be aware of issues surrounding bullying in their places of learning. Interestingly, Ofsted’s proposal responds to a demand from parents to be provided with better information about how well behaviour is managed in their child’s school. Under the new framework, the introduction of a separate behaviour judgement will assess whether schools are creating a calm, well-managed environment. Leaders will also have to be prepared to ensure they are protecting their staff from bullying and harassment, which may call for new guidelines and measures of best practice within their schools.
The new framework sees proposals for a ‘personal development judgement’ that will recognise the work schools and colleges do to build young peoples’ resilience and confidence in later life. Educators can be expected to show that they are offering valuable and enriching opportunities that nurture skills and passions – work may include cadet forces; National Citizen Service; or sports, drama, or debating teams. Of course, the welfare of staff is also important. Ofsted’s inspectors will be looking closely at how leaders develop their teachers and staff, such as offering CPD and training opportunities. The new framework however, will also seek to ensure that the workload and wellbeing of staff are taken into account. Subsequently, school leaders must consider that new policies and procedures are not placing unnecessary burdens on teachers.
Amongst these considerations, a main takeaway from these proposals is that Ofsted’s outcomes will no longer be a standalone judgement, with new judgements covering quality of education, isolating behaviour and attitudes, and personal development all serving as prospective additions. However, these changes will not mean that schools are inspection free. Educators will, nevertheless, be pleased to hear that a successful rollout of the new framework should mean that future inspections will consider how schools work on a daily basis and not just during exam and results days.
All things considered, it’s important to remember that the new Ofsted framework is currently in its proposal phase. This month saw the launch of a consultation on the framework and Ofsted have promised to consider all responses carefully before finalising it. Interested educators and other parties can have their say until 05 April 2019.