A first look at Ofsted's new inspection reports

What do the first set of inspections reports tell us about how Ofsted is judging schools under its new framework?

The first Ofsted inspection reports have been published under the new framework.

The first batch of Ofsted reports published under its new framework demonstrate the increased importance inspectors are placing on the curriculum.

This week, the inspectorate has published its first reports from school visits carried out under its new regime.

Under its new framework, Ofsted has created a new quality of education inspection judgement in which inspectors take a “deep dive” into certain subjects in order to assess the school curriculum.


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Of the first nine school inspection reports seen by Tes, two schools have improved from "requires improvement" to "good", five schools have continued to be judged to be "good" and two schools that were previously rated as "outstanding" have been downgraded.

One received a "good" judgement and another has been found to require improvement.

Curriculum features heavily in the positive reports

In the schools that have seen improvements, the curriculum features heavily in inspectors' findings.

At Leyland St Mary’s Roman Catholic School in Lancashire, which went from "requires improvement" to "good", inspectors found that leaders had developed strong curricula for reading, writing and maths.

The reports also go into detail about the specific subjects they have focused on.

The Leyland St Mary’s report adds: “The history curriculum has been designed to interest and motivate pupils. Pupils particularly love the occasions where they take part in special subject days and weeks where they dress up and experience life in, for example, the time of the Romans or the Stone Age.”

But results do still count

Ofsted has said that its inspections now place less emphasis on data. Under the new framework, pupil outcomes and teaching and learning have been replaced as separate inspection judgements with a new overall quality of education judgement.

However, the first new reports also demonstrate that Ofsted is still looking at exam and test results as part of this judgement.

Hawkesbury CE Primary School in Badminton, South Gloucestershire, has been downgraded from "outstanding" to "requires improvement".

Its report includes concerns that over several years, standards in reading and maths have declined in both key stages 1 and 2. Its says teachers’ plans to improve pupils’ progress in reading lack the detail that is needed and leaders have not identified the root causes sufficiently.

SEND matters

The first reports also show inspectors are looking at how well mainstream schools are meeting the needs of pupils with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND). Ofsted has also changed the parent view survey to include a question about parent's views on SEND.

In the report for Box Church Primary in Corsham, Wiltshire it says that some sequences of work for pupils with SEND are not developed or adapted to meet pupils’ needs. 

The report found that while most pupils learn well, some pupils with SEND do not reach their full potential.

Ofsted has also praised schools for the way in which they ensure the curriculum meets the needs of pupils with SEND.

Pupils voices promoted

The way the reports are presented under the new framework has changed.

After the headline inspection judgements, the reports start with a section entitled "What is it like to attend this school?"

The report then gives details about the impressions the pupils have of life at their school.

This is in contrast to the previous inspection regime which started with either the school’s strengths or weaknesses at the top of the report in bullet points.

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