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Exclusive: Ofsted sets up helpline to ensure inspectors understand new GCSEs

Teaching unions welcome the move announced by chief inspector Amanda Spielman

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Teaching unions welcome the move announced by chief inspector Amanda Spielman

Ofsted is setting up a dedicated helpline to ensure that its inspectors understand England's new exams system.

This is intended to help inspectors analyse schools' results – and, specifically, new GCSE numerical grades – effectively.

Writing in this week’s Tes magazine, Amanda Spielman, Ofsted's chief inspector, said: “I have put in place a robust package of training and analytical support for our inspectors, including a dedicated help desk to advise inspectors during the inspection process.

“All of this will make sure inspectors know what can and, as importantly, what can’t be inferred from a school’s results in the new GCSEs.”

Addressing teachers, Ms Spielman wrote: “We know how important it is for you that we get this right. There will be no knee-jerk reaction to the outcomes.”

'Ofsted is a mixed-ability organisation'

Teaching unions have welcomed the decision. Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said: “The more inspectors are aware of how this year’s results have played out, the better for everyone.”

And Mary Bousted, joint general secretary of the teachers' National Education Union, said: “I’m very pleased that Ofsted is finally taking the trouble to make sure that their inspectors can understand the data in front of them.

“It’s overdue – Ofsted inspectors have needed that for some time, in my view. I think we need to remember that Ofsted is a mixed-ability organisation.”

'Shocking waste of money'

The Ofsted chief inspector also said that she did not believe that school inspections should require weeks of preparation and special "Ofsted lessons".

She said: “They don’t require ‘mocksteds’, and my own belief is that taking resource away from the classroom to pay consultants is a shocking waste of money.”

And, as Tes reported earlier this week, Ms Spielman will be prioritising the reduction of teachers’ workload over the coming terms.

“I know that the introduction of new curriculum and the associated tests and exams has meant a lot of work for schools, which isn’t yet finished,” she said.

“I don’t want Ofsted to be the cause of unnecessary workload while this change is being digested.”

Amanda Spielman's full article can be found in the 8 September edition of Tes. Subscribers can read it here. To subscribe, click hereTo download the digital edition, Android users can click here and iOS users can click hereThis week's Tes magazine is available in all good newsagents. 

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