Overall, the aim of the new framework is to focus more strongly on the core 'business' of the school - teaching and learning - and to generate evidence on this through more direct observation of teaching and pupil's work. It achieves this by slimming down to four key judgements (plus a view on overall spiritual, moral, social and cultural development, as well as an overall effectiveness rating).
There are no numerical ratings below the four main categories and there is no formulaic relationship between these categories and the overall rating (i.e. no limiting judgements). There will be a strong relation between judgements, due to the logic of the criteria (many of which overlap) but it will still be possible to be outstanding overall without being outstanding in every category. The context and, in particular, the 'trajectory of improvement' will determine this. The watchword is 'professional judgement'.
The four categories are reasonably well known:
It is worth noting, though, that both curriculum quality and safeguarding are considered within leadership and management. There is no standard self evaluation form, but a short self evaluation summary is vital - the quality and accuracy of this self evaluation will underpin the judgement of leadership and management.
Achievement is composed of both attainment and progress. It will be possible to be judged a good or outstanding school with below average attainment. The correlation between achievement and overall effectiveness is over 90%; the correlation between attainment and overall effectiveness is below 50%. The real focus though, is on narrowing the gap. Schools will be expected to have identified groups of pupils at risk of under-achievement and to have prioritised interventions to narrow their gaps. Contrary to some of the media coverage, this is not a demographic exercise, of tick boxing all the normal vulnerable groups, but will vary from school to school.
What are the main things that leadership teams will need to focus on?
There is a heavier focus on literacy, particularly early reading and intervention in years seven and eight. Primaries in particular will want to increase their focus on key stage one. Systematic synthetic phonics will come to the fore if progress in reading is behind the norm. Literacy is described by Ofsted as the 'core duty' and 'highest priority' of Primary schools.
The self evaluation will need to show, more than ever, through data, evidence and analysis,
- which groups of students are most at risk of falling behind;
- what programmes, resources and interventions have been put in place to address this; and
- what the evidence of success is.
The school's response to bullying is critical. There is a strong focus on bullying and the reaction to it. Schools will also want to be confident that they understand the views of pupils and parents about safety in school. Behaviour is more broadly of interest to the extent that it disrupts teaching and learning; attendance will be seen as a measure of safety and safeguarding.
School leaders will need to know comprehensively and precisely the quality of teachers and teaching in the school, and be able to demonstrate both the evidence for their judgements and the actions - in terms of training, coaching, resources and, ultimately, performance management - used to increase the proportion of good and outstanding lessons.
Contextual value added has been abandoned in favour of value added. Schools can present evidence on their intake and rates of progress. Inspectors will be asking: what are you doing to narrow the gap for those groups of your pupils who need it most? This will often be evidenced by higher rates of progress than the national average for pupils whose attainment is low on entry.
Leadership and management will essentially be judged by how well and how honestly they know their school; the ambition of their vision; and how effectively they have targetted effort and attention where it is needed most.
As previously stated, the breadth and quality of the curriculum will also be assessed under leadership and management and schools will have the opportunity - which feeds into overall effectiveness - to demonstrate their approach to the whole child. This will often be seen through the lens of how well they are equipping students for the next stage of school/life. Ofsted will not monitor compliance with the national curriculum; they are focused on quality and impact.
Outstanding schools will not be routinely inspected but will undergo risk assessments three years after the last inspection or if triggered by a trend in complaints; good schools will receive a risk assessment after three years and will be inspected within five; satisfactory schools may be inspected more frequently and receive monitoring visits if they have had two consecutive satisfactory judgements; schools judged inadequate will receive swifter follow up judgements.
A new survey tool called "Parent View" will be available for rolling, live feedback on schools by 'parents'. This will be taken into account. Ofsted believe they have created safeguards against abuse but we are highly sceptical of this.
With any new framework, and there have been plenty of them, mistakes and misunderstandings will be common as inspection teams get to grips with the new criteria. NAHT retains its pressure to improve consistency and prevent the damage of rogue inspectors.