What Ofsted's new framework means for further education

Four new inspection judgements proposed for Ofsted's draft framework, which will be consulted on in January

George Ryan

Ofsted’s deputy director for FE and skills Paul Joyce was speaking at the AELP National Conference in London

Colleges, training providers and schools will be relieved of burdensome data collection in order to focus on teaching and learning, according to Ofsted's chief inspector.

​​​​​​Amanda Spielman announced the inspectorate's plans to focus more on the quality of education at schools, rather than exam results.

While her speech at the SCHOOLS NorthEast summit in Newcastle today was focused on schools, the new framework will also apply to further education colleges and other post-16 providers. Following a consultation in January, the changes are due to come into effect in September 2019.

Ms Spielman acknowledged that the current inspection model had contributed to excessive workload for some teaching staff. The new inspection framework plans to reward school leaders who are ambitious for their learners, rather than “those who jump through hoops”.

Discourage unnecessary data collection 

Ms Spielman added that the new framework will place greater emphasis on the substance of education, and actively discourage unnecessary data collection. Ofsted will now consult on the introduction of a single new judgement, “quality of education”, to replace the current “outcomes for pupils” and “teaching, learning and assessment” judgements.

She said: “We know that focusing too narrowly on test and exam results can often leave little time or energy for hard thinking about the curriculum, and in fact can sometimes end up making a casualty of it. The bottom line is that we must make sure that we, as an inspectorate, complement rather than intensify performance data.”

A consultation on the draft framework will begin in January.

No postponement

The “personal development, welfare and behaviour” judgement in the current framework will be split into two distinct areas with the aim of recognising the difference between behaviour and discipline in colleges, and learners’ wider personal development. 

An overall effectiveness judgement will continue to be awarded, and all judgements will be made using the current four-point grading scale.

Responding to the suggestion that these changes should be postponed for a year, Ms Spielman said that she was confident to progress with the changes as planned.

Ms Spielman added: “We are not talking here about an Ofsted-approved approach. We are talking about an approach that leaves plenty of space for diversity but nevertheless makes it possible to recognise and discourage things that just aren’t good enough. Our curriculum research showed quite clearly that it’s possible to acknowledge a range of successful curricular approaches – approaches that cross any perceived ideological divide.”

Proposed new Ofsted judgements

  • Quality of education
  • Personal development
  • Behaviour and attitudes
  • Leadership and management

Current inspection judgements

  • Effectiveness of leadership and management
  • Quality of teaching, learning and assessment
  • Personal development, behaviour and welfare
  • Outcomes for children and learners

Focus on apprenticeships

In September, it was announced that the Department for Education will provide Ofsted with the funding to carry out monitoring visits of all new training providers entering the apprenticeships market.

Inspectors will return within a year to carry out a full inspection of providers deemed to have made "insufficient progress" at their first visit.

In April, it was announced that FE providers rated good by Ofsted will now be inspected within five years, instead of three.

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George Ryan

George Ryan

George Ryan is a further education reporter for tes

Find me on Twitter @GeorgeMRyan

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