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The Ofsted Inspection Framework 2019: What You Need To Know

The Ofsted Inspection Framework for 2019 was announced by Ofsted in 2018. This article summarise the key changes Amanda Spielman, Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector, highlighted in some of her earlier speeches on the topic.

May 2019 update – Following the Ofsted consultation 2019, Ofsted then released their new Ofsted framework 2019. Follow the links for our later blogs with a summary of changes includes a free 2-page downloadable for your SLT and Governors.

According to Ofsted’s 2018 press release ‘these changes will move Ofsted’s focus away from headline data to look instead at how schools are achieving these results, and whether they are offering a curriculum that is broad, rich and deep, or simply teaching to the test’.

What Has Caused Such An Abrupt Change In Focus From Ofsted?

In her speech to the Schools NorthEast summit, Ms. Spielman discussed both the driving force behind the changes and the perceived benefits.

When speaking on what has inspired the proposed changes to the inspection framework, Ms. Spielman admitted that Ofsted should “be a force for improvement”, perhaps implying that it isn’t currently achieving this.

It would appear that the organisation believes that it is not working to its full potential under the current framework, and she went on to clarify that she believes that:

• Ofsted’s “current model is driving too much workload and much of it falls on the shoulders of classroom teachers.”

• Ofsted inspections focus too much on outcomes which places “too much weight on test and exam results”

Ofsted ratings and inspections haven’t “placed enough emphasis on the curriculum.”

As a result, Ms. Spielman believes that Ofsted’s current working practices have increased the pressure “on school leaders, teachers and indirectly on pupils to deliver perfect data above all else” and that they have led “schools to put overall results ahead of individual children’s needs.” It is these issues that the proposed changes will attempt to tackle.

Third Space Learning’s online one-to-one maths tuition is tailored to each individual student, working to fill the gaps in their learning of the maths curriculum.

Third Space Learning online tutoring slide on comparing numbers
Third Space Learning online lesson slide looking at comparing numbers.

Ofsted Inspection School Information File

Ofsted Inspection School Information File

Our Ofsted Inspection School Information File will make sure you have everything in order for your friendly Ofsted inspector whenever they arrive!

So What Does The Ofsted Inspection Framework 2019 Mean For Your School?

If indeed Ofsted has delivered a framework which truly achieves what they said they wanted to achieve, then there will be several benefits to schools:

• Judgements will be made by shifting the focus from results onto “what is being taught and how schools are achieving a good education”. However, outcomes will still be taken into consideration.

• The playing field should be made more even for schools situated in areas of high disadvantage where the quality of provision is of a good standard.

• Schools should feel empowered to “put the child first” and will be rewarded “for doing the right thing by their pupils.” This in contrast to attempting to achieve good results at the cost of personal development and the delivery of a broad and balanced curriculum. “Those who are bold and ambitious and run their schools with integrity will be rewarded as a result.”

• Workload should decrease amongst teachers as currently “schools inevitably feel they must do a ton of recording and collating of information to present during the inspection.” The intention is that “a focus on substance will help to tackle excessive workload.”

• Schools should feel supported by Ofsted, rather than judged by them, and this should enable a greater number of Ofsted outstanding primary schools

How Are Ofsted Planning To Implement These Changes?

In order to do everything mentioned by Ms Spielman, the 2019 inspection framework has several potential key features. Inspectors, under the new framework, will:

• Spend more time on site “having those professional conversations with leaders and teachers…”. This could mean that less time will be spent before inspections looking at school data before visits are made to schools.

• Look much more at what the curriculum is like and how it is taught.

• Be looking for signs of an imbalance of curriculum and a focus on exam results: Ms. Spielman said that “Ofsted will challenge those schools where too much time is spent on preparation for tests at the expense of teaching.”

• Look for practices based on evidence from research and previous inspections:  “We will be intelligent by basing the framework on research from inspection and other wider research.”

• Focus on what will “genuinely assess quality of education”.

The 5 Key Things You Should Takeaway From Spielman’s Speech On The 2019 Ofsted Inspection Framework

Things to note for the framework, then, are as follows:

• Outcomes will no longer be a standalone judgement.

• The existing quality of teaching, learning and assessment judgement will be broadened to include a quality of education judgement based on the curriculum and outcomes.

• There will be a judgement isolating behaviour and attitudes.

• There will also be a judgement isolating personal development.

• Leadership and management remain as a key judgement.

To clarify the changes to the existing quality of teaching, learning and assessment judgement, Ms. Spielman had this to say in her speech:

“Under quality of education, we intend to look at 3 distinct aspects. First the intent – what is it that schools want for all their children? Then the implementation – how is teaching and assessment fulfilling the intent? Finally, the impact – that is the results and wider outcomes that children achieve and the destinations that they go on to.”

Could This Spell The End Of Difficult Ofsted Inspections?

Perhaps, for those who’ve experienced some difficult inspections and are still wondering what Ofsted look for it might all seem too good to be true. Others might regard these announcements with suspicion. In fact, on receipt of this information, certain questions will be asked by most school leaders:

– Does a renewed focus on curriculum (or implementation of the school’s intent) mean that Ofsted will be making judgements about particular pedagogical approach?

– Does this mean that there will be a return to doing things the Ofsted way?

– How will these ideas actually play out in reality?

In her speech Ms. Spielman was keen to point out that:

“We are not talking here about an Ofsted-approved approach… it’s possible to acknowledge a range of successful curricular approaches – approaches that cross any perceived ideological divide.”

So whilst these changes won’t mean schools are inspection free, if Ofsted follow through on their new plan and do it well, it should mean that each inspection better reflects how schools work on a daily basis, not just on exam day. If you are looking for a way to plan for an Ofsted inspection scheduled before the inspection framework is due to change, this Guide to creating a whole school maths strategy is well worth a read. 

What Do You Need To Do As A Result Of This Announcement?

Maybe the three ‘I’s here (intent, implementation and impact) actually have the very real danger of becoming the next thing we have to do for Ofsted. It’s not difficult to imagine the workload created by schools who decide to make this the focus of a new piece of paperwork!

Clearly that isn’t the way to go, but what should school leaders do as a result of these proposed changes?

• Read the HMCI’s commentary on recent primary and secondary curriculum research and the HMCI commentary on curriculum and the new education inspection framework in order to begin to assess current curriculum provision.

• Assess current focus of the school: does the timetable focus more on what will be examined externally? Is teacher workload taken into consideration with current expectations?

• Do very little else – one of Ofsted’s aims does seem to be that schools will do less by way of Ofsted preparation. so to begin to take action as a result of the proposed changes would seem counter intuitive.

Read more

Most SLT reading this will be aware of the new in-depth subject investigation element to the inspection framework. Find out more about an Ofsted Deep Dive and how you can be fully prepared for it here.

Do you have pupils who need extra support in maths?
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Since 2013 we’ve helped over 150,000 primary and secondary school pupils become more confident, able mathematicians. Learn more or request a personalised quote for your school to speak to us about your school’s needs and how we can help.


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Aidan Severs
Aidan Severs
Assistant Vice Principal
Maths Leader
Aidan Severs is a passionate wellbeing enthusiast and Primary Lead Practitioner. He writes for the Third Space blog on KS2 SATs, with a focus on teacher/pupil wellbeing.
Ofsted Inspection School Information File

Ofsted Inspection School Information File

Our Ofsted Inspection School Information File will make sure you have everything in order for your friendly Ofsted inspector whenever they arrive!

Download Free Now!

Ofsted Inspection School Information File

Downloadable resource

Our Ofsted Inspection School Information File will make sure you have everything in order for your friendly Ofsted inspector whenever they arrive!

Download Free Now!

FREE Ofsted Deep Dive Questions: Preparation And Discussion Framework

Questions are taken from those that have turned up most frequently in recent Ofsted Deep Dives, as provided to us by teachers from inspected schools, following the current Ofsted Education Inspection Framework.

Many of the questions apply across other subjects - not just maths!

Download free