QA

23rd May 2008 at 01:00
Q: How much reliance do inspectors place on "baseline" assessments in junior schools? Our school improvement partner (SIP) urged us to test Year 3 pupils in the autumn term using the Year 2 test, so that we could compare the results with the inflated results they supposedly attained in the infants
Q: How much reliance do inspectors place on "baseline" assessments in junior schools? Our school improvement partner (SIP) urged us to test Year 3 pupils in the autumn term using the Year 2 test, so that we could compare the results with the inflated results they supposedly attained in the infants.

A: Before the inspection starts, the lead inspector (LI) will have just three sources of information for the starting point in deciding what the team needs to look most closely at when they are in school. The LI will have the last report, the self-evaluation form and the school's RaiseOnline data.

The latter includes pointers that place the school's Sats scores in context. In your school, that will include measures of the "value added" from the key stage 1 scores that pupils come in with. You believe that the Year 2 assessments from your feeder infant school are inflated. Your SIP apparently thinks so too, which is why you are being urged to back up the claim with Year 3 testing evidence.

You won't be surprised to learn that this is a claim that your inspectors are likely to have heard before. Many junior schools question the accuracy of the Year 2 assessments that are used as the starting point for measuring the junior school's effectiveness.

If you make such a claim without evidence to back it up, then inspectors can note it but they cannot readily substitute anecdotal assertion for the empirical evidence of published key stage 1 Sats scores.

Do bear in mind that if you show inspectors evidence of any marked differences, this may well beg important further questions. Inspectors cannot pass comment on schools they are not inspecting, so don't expect them to rubbish the infant school's results.

If you show evidence of a discrepancy, they may want to know what your school has done to resolve it. Why, for example, are the schools not working together on moderation of assessments?

Q: Our last inspection report made a recommendation that involved some building work to provide a new teaching space. The local authority has not been forthcoming with the money and nothing has changed, apart from a few cupboards and rearrangement of furniture. What will Ofsted say about this? A: It would be unusual for an inspection report to demand building works, as opposed to, for example, calling on governors to use their best endeavours to secure the work. I would not expect inspectors to criticise the school if it has done what it can to secure the improvements needed, but has been thwarted by lack of local authority or (in the case of voluntary aided church schools) diocesan funds.

Selwyn Ward draws on years of inspection experience. The views expressed here are his own. To ask him a question, contact him at askaninspector@tes.co.uk.

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