If you haven’t already read these guest posts on the Schools Improvement website, please do so:
Professor Colin Richards describes the considerable flaws in the current Ofsted Inspection Framework and explains how evidence can’t possibly be gathered for all judgement criteria in a two-day inspection, let alone the even briefer inspection periods for ‘outstanding’ schools etc.
“On my count (and that’s disputable given the vague nature of some of the inspection criteria) that adds up to at least 102 judgments, each requiring the collection, collation and consideration of evidence if it is to be credible, and all of them requiring to be made in a very short space of time – in no more two full days for a typical one-form entry primary school.”
In exactly the same way that it was impossible to teach the 1000s of learning objectives in the original National Curriculum (over five consolidated learning outcomes per day per child with no opportunity to revisit) so too is this Ofsted inspection impossible to do.
Yet again, as a profession, there’s a defeatist acknowledgement of the Ofsted framework because teachers are disempowered to object to this preposterous system.
When talking about the “personal development, behaviour and welfare” section, Professor Richards says,
“The same impossible demands on their time and expertise are made in relation to “personal development, behaviour and welfare” where 14 sub-judgments (many also multi-faceted) have to be made after collection and consideration of evidence. To take another example from many, how much time and patience (let alone tact) would they need to spend to arrive at a credible judgment of how well the school promotes and supports children’s “understanding of how to keep themselves safe from relevant risks such as abuse, sexual exploitation and extremism, including when using the internet and social media”? But there are at least 13 other sub-judgments, some of them complex and sensitive, which they need to make in that two-day period!”
Add to this the fact that some Ofsted inspectors have – by their own admission – limited knowledge of the personal development element of education, having being asked for decades to concentrate wholly on attainment, one can see the huge problems that loom in the inspection for this area of work.
Now if the Common Inspection Framework and its accompanying School Inspection Handbook were seen as guidance documents for good practice rather than an adherence manual, then there may be a different perspective on these hundreds of judgements that Professor Richards quite rightly says are impossible to evidence and inspect in a limited period of time. As Colin says, note the word “will” rather than “may” throughout the document – “inspectors will consider. . . .”
In an ideal world, a far-off land in education, educators would be free to develop their own plans, formulate their own ideas, develop a pedagogy suitable for their pupils and themselves based on evidence, guidance, knowledge, intuition etc.
We concur with Professor Richards that the statements for feasible judgements on personal development are potentially impossible to evidence in the few hours that they’re going to be considered.
However, as a guidance for good practice, they have some validity.
Educators could look at the criteria for an outstanding school in each of the judgement areas and use this as a basis for an audit of what they are currently doing.
To this end, using the outstanding judgement criteria examples, 3Di has developed the following grids to look at the criteria, provide an example of good practice/evidence and offer additional areas for development – for an outstanding performance is not stagnant. There’s always more to be done.
First and foremost, we would recommend a tracking system for personal development that is managed and used by teachers and students simultaneously – preferably with parental engagement too. (If current IT systems can inform a parent what their child has eaten in school, surely similar programs can engage them in tracking their personal development). We find it difficult, nay impossible, to see how a school can achieve an “outstanding” judgement without this.
As with our previous post on the subject, the grids are not an exhaustive list. They are merely some suggestions as to how this work may be developed.
If any school or group of schools would like our support to develop this, please contact us by email – firstname.lastname@example.org.
3Di is passionate about the value and importance of work on personal development. We would like to offer schools support on how to develop outstanding practice.
Therefore we are willing to work with up to five schools – first come, first served basis – for travelling costs alone to audit and advise on your current provision for personal development and wellbeing in order to significantly contribute to your evidence for the “Personal Development, Behaviour and Welfare” judgement.
We look forward to hearing from you.