Ofsted's 'shot across the bows' for schools gaming the system

Chief inspector urges schools getting good results 'the wrong way' to change now before inspectors visit

John Roberts

Ofsted, schools, exams, gaming the system, Amanda Spielman

Ofsted’s planned shake up of its inspection regime is a “warning shot across the bows” for schools who are getting good results without delivering a good education, according to the chief schools inspector.

Amanda Spielman set out plans today to downgrade the importance of exam results in future inspection judgements in favour of a broader assessment of the quality of education a school provides.

The head of the inspectorate has said that in the past it has placed too much weight on exam results and not given enough importance to the school curriculum.

When asked whether some high performing schools which "game the system" would be unhappy with the proposed changes, Ms Spielman said: “I think a bit of a warning shot across the bows of anybody who is getting good results through something that no sane parents would want as education for their child is no bad thing.

“If a school is getting good results in the wrong way then I would like them to be thinking about that now and shifting it before any Ofsted inspector comes along to see them.”

Ofsted’s new framework is set to be launched in September next year.

Today Ms Spielman has set out the new inspection criteria.

As previously reported by Tes, outcomes will no longer be a separate judgement with a school’s results now forming part of a wider quality of education grade – which will also replace the teaching and learning category.

Ms Spielman said: “Having an outcomes judgement in its own right privileges the outcomes irrespective of how they have been achieved.

"Putting them back in the context of a quality of education judgement where you look at what is  taught and how it's taught as well will help give us that handle on ‘have they been achieved in the right way?’ If they haven’t then it's not as impressive.”

Hundreds of schools are taking part in trials of the new framework which start this week across all phases from early years to further education colleges.

Ms Spielman said that as part of the pilot they were looking at giving inspectors more time in schools which could mean increasing inspection visits beyond one or two days.

The chief inspector’s plans for the curriculum received a warm reception at Schools NorthEast’s annual summit today in Newcastle.

Schools North East director Mike Parker said: “We think Amanda Spielman’s speech has been really well received.

“The principles she has talked about really resonate with our leaders. The proof will be whether the rhetoric from the top leads to a culture change out in the field.

“As a direction of travel is a really positive one. The current framework is too narrow to recognise all the brilliant things going on in schools, particularly in disadvantaged areas.

“The litmus test for this will be what happens to schools and trusts that are currently being lauded as successful but which teach a very narrow curriculum.”

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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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