Ofsted has updated its “mythbusting” guidance to schools to help them prepare for inspection.
The advice is aimed at demystifying the inspection process for schools and making sure time staff is not taken up on the mistaken assumption of what Ofsted wants to see.
Here are five new things the inspectorate is telling schools today.
1. A school’s exam and test results do not determine its Ofsted grade
Ofsted has faced criticism that its inspections are too reliant on data when forming judgements about schools.
Today it has said that the attainment of past pupils does not determine a school’s inspection report.
It does acknowledge that the published data of a school can inform inspectors’ lines of enquiry and that they take these results into account when evaluating a school’s outcomes.
However, Ofsted insists that in reaching a judgement about the outcomes of a school, inspectors will give more weight to progress, “and particularly the progress of pupils still at the school” rather than the test results of past pupils.
2. A school’s effectiveness grade does not predetermine the outcome of future inspections
Ofsted says the overall effectiveness judgement for an inspection does not predetermine the outcome of any subsequent inspection.
There are, of course, consequences for how a school is reinspected depending on the inspection grade it gets. An "outstanding" school is currently made exempt from routine reinspection, although Ofsted wants to change this.
And a school that is rated as "good" will be scheduled to get a one-day reinspection to assess whether it is still in this category good – which Ofsted inspectors can decide to extend.
However, Ofsted has explicitly said today that the outcome of one inspection report does not does predetermine any future inspections.
3. Ofsted will not check on performance management processes
The updated myth-busting document says that inspectors will not check on the process for the performance management arrangements for school leaders and staff.
It says Ofsted does not require schools to provide anonymised lists of teachers meeting or not meeting performance thresholds for pay progression. And it also does not expect headteacher performance objectives to include targets relating to the proportion of good or better teaching.
The guidance also states that Ofsted does not expect school leaders to set teacher performance targets based on predictions of pupils' achievements.
4. Ofsted does not have a view on the need for school fences
On the issue of site security, Ofsted says that it expects schools to assess the risks posed to children within their context and take "the appropriate and proportionate steps to keep children safe."
The myth-busting document adds: “In particular, inspectors do not have a predetermined view on the need for perimeter fences. They will consider each school’s site security on its own merits."
5. Inspectors are interested in the EBacc
But Ofsted says inspectors will not expect school leaders to have developed or present separate plans about the English Baccalaureate.
The guidance says that inspectors will discuss with school leaders their curriculum vision and ambitions for their pupils, “including consideration of EBacc subjects as part of their curriculum offer.”
Ofsted will evaluate “how well a school’s curriculum plan contributes to the government’s ambition” on the Ebacc.
However Ofsted says inspectors will not expect all schools to be at similar stages of EBacc implementation, "nor will inspectors pay particular attention to where the school is currently".