Inadequate’ schools with ‘ineffective’ safeguarding to be re-inspected sooner – Ofsted

Making the announcement today, Ofsted has also said that all schools will be given more clarity around what year they will be inspected

The moves form part of a number of measures being introduced by the inspectorate following debate around the effectiveness of Ofsted and after headteacher Ruth Perry took her own life when her school was downgraded.

Perry’s sister, along with the National Education Union (see comment at bottom of story), have said that the changes don’t go far enough however.

Returning to schools with ineffective safeguarding

Under the change, which will be effective immediately, inspectors will return to schools with an inadequate grading due to ineffective safeguarding and where all other judgements were ‘good’ or better, within three months of their last inspection report being published.

Ofsted says where a school has been able to resolve the safeguarding concerns it will ‘likely’ see its overall grade improve.

Notice of inspections

Another change, announced by Ofsted today, is to make it clearer what year schools will be inspected. They will continue to receive a day’s notice ahead of inspection. Ofsted says the change will help schools that have been exempt from inspection for years.

Details of the change are outlined in a blog post on Ofsted’s website.

Other changes being made by the inspectorate include:

  • From September, greater clarity for schools about the threshold for effective versus ineffective safeguarding within the inspection handbook. Ineffective safeguarding will also be described more clearly in inspection reports.
  • Consulting with the sector about making it easier to complain about Ofsted and for complaints to be resolved quicker.
  • Making it clearer that it is up to a headteacher which colleagues, or others, they share their inspection outcome with – being aware that judgements are provisional until the report is finalised. Provisional judgements shouldn’t be shared with parents. This will be made clear in the covering letter that accompanies draft inspection reports.
  • From September, when discussing areas of weakness, reports will refer to the school by default rather than individuals.

Another change is to increase well-being support so double the number of school leaders currently able to take up the offer, which is funded by the Department for Education, can benefit.

The Education Support programme will double in size to support an additional 500 heads by March 2024. The DfE plans to expand on this beyond next month.

‘Ofsted is central to this Government’s success in raising school standards.’

Ofsted’s chief inspector Amanda Spielman said, ‘When we inspect schools our priority must always be children’s education and wellbeing – but at the same time we want to make sure inspection is as positive an experience for school staff as it can be.

‘We have listened to many voices in this debate. I’m particularly grateful to union leaders, other sector representatives and the secretary of state for the constructive discussions we’ve had over the last couple of months, which have helped us with this package of measures.’

Education secretary Gillian Keegan added, ‘Ofsted is central to this Government’s success in raising school standards, and it is right it continues to evolve.

‘We must ensure our school leaders have the support they need, which is why today we are significantly expanding our wellbeing support. This expansion will help make sure head teachers have access to support whenever they need it.

‘Taken together, today’s announcements are a really important step. I have committed to continuing our work on improving the way we inspect our schools with Ofsted and the family of Ruth Perry following her tragic death.’

‘Ofsted fails to comprehend the scale of change which is needed.’

Mary Bousted, joint general secretary of the National Education Union (NEU), said, ‘This announcement signals that Ofsted recognise the need for change. Unfortunately, Ofsted fails to comprehend the scale of change which is needed to restore the confidence of the profession in its judgements on school quality.  

‘This package of measures announced today do not go nearly far enough to address the deep concerns of teachers and leaders about the surveillance model of school inspection in England

‘These changes don’t address the high stakes pressures that are tied up with a one grade summative judgement and that drive unsustainable pressure and a data- heavy surveillance culture. Better policy is needed which delivers an inspection system that is effective and fair and in which teachers and leaders’ contributions are properly valued’.

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