Exclude and you’re not 'outstanding', Ofsted told heads

School leaders' union raises concern about members experiences during the first term of Ofsted's new inspection regime

John Roberts

An NAHT report says that  Ofsted inspectors have told schools that a single fixed term exclusion will mean they cannot be judged to be outstanding.

Ofsted inspectors have told schools that a single fixed-term exclusion will mean they cannot be judged to be "outstanding", according to headteachers quoted in a new report.

The NAHT school leaders' union has raised concerns about its members' experiences of the first term of the new Ofsted inspection regime.

The association's new report says that some schools have been told by inspectors that exclusion would preclude them getting a top rating.

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"Some inspectors have refused to consider statutory data; while others have argued that a single fixed-term exclusion precludes a judgement of 'outstanding'," it says.

This is raised in a section of the report highlighting NAHT concerns about the way inspection teams were carrying out their work under the new framework.

Right to exclude

Ofsted has backed a school's right to exclude pupils and last year chief  inspector Amanda Spielman reaffirmed this amid speculation that the Timpson review was going to cut back schools' powers.

In its new inspection handbook, Ofsted says: "Headteachers have the right to exclude pupils when there are legitimate reasons for them to do so. Used correctly, exclusion is a vital measure for headteachers to use. Exclusions must be legal and justified."

It also says that if a school uses fixed-term and internal exclusions, inspectors will evaluate their effectiveness, including the rates, patterns and reasons for exclusion and whether any pupils are repeatedly excluded.

The handbook adds: "Inspectors will consider how well the school is recognising and acting to address any patterns that exist, because disruptive behaviour or sudden changes in behaviour can be an indication of unmet needs or a change in another aspect of a young person’s life."

Although Ofsted backs a school's right to exclude it is cracking down on off-rolling through its new inspections.

The new NAHT report outlines its members experiences of inspection during the first term of the academic year.

It calls for Ofsted to reform its inspections which it says are proving deeply problematic for primary schools.

It also warns that the new inspections have shattered the confidence of both new and experienced teachers.

However, it praises Ofsted for the introduction of the 90-minute phone call the day before the inspection which it says is working well.

It also praises Ms Spielman for clarifying that inspectors should welcome any senior leader that wishes to support subject leaders in curriculum discussions. 

An Ofsted spokesperson said: "This framework was the most widely consulted on in Ofsted’s history, and anchored in solid research.

"So far we’ve carried out over 1,200 full inspections and section 8 inspections of 'good' and non-exempt schools. The feedback we receive continues to be very positive.

“In post-inspection surveys, nearly nine out of 10 respondents said they were satisfied with the way their inspection was carried out.

“That said, we recognise that those feeding back to the NAHT have identified areas for improved implementation.

"These mostly mirror the concerns raised by some to us directly – for example, the logistics of implementation in small schools, how headteachers and other senior leaders might support subject leads, and the extent to which inspectors can cover the expectations of the framework in the time available on site.

“We welcome this feedback from the NAHT and our continuing dialogue about the implementation of the new framework. We look forward to continuing to work with the NAHT in the coming months."

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John Roberts

John Roberts

John Roberts is North of England reporter for Tes

Find me on Twitter @JohnGRoberts

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