The latest Ofsted Framework update has provided a new approach to how Ofsted inspects maintained schools, academies, non-associated independent schools, further education, and early years settings in England.
We’ve had a look at the updates and written a summary for you here. We hope it helps!
NEW: Section 8 'Conduct during inspections’
The updated framework brings new clarity to the expected conduct during inspections, both for the inspectors and the providers. Inspectors are expected to uphold the highest professional standards, treating everyone they encounter during inspections with respect and sensitivity. Providers, on the other hand, are encouraged to approach their inspections with integrity, providing open, transparent, and honest evidence to enable inspectors to report reliably.
‘Ofsted’s code of conduct outlines our expectations of the conduct of our inspectors and our expectations of providers during inspection.
Inspectors will uphold the highest professional standards in their work. They will treat everyone they meet during inspections fairly and with respect and sensitivity.
Providers should approach their inspection with integrity and be open, transparent and honest. This includes providing evidence – or access to evidence – that will enable inspectors to report honestly, fairly and reliably. It means not withholding or concealing evidence, or providing false, misleading, inaccurate or incomplete information.'
Updated: Section 37 ‘Timings of the next inspection’
The timing of the inspection has undergone a significant change. The framework outlines that an inspection can now take place from five school days after the first day pupils attend in the autumn term. Schools are now subject to inspection intervals of 5 or 7 years depending on the date of the last inspection.
‘Timing of the next inspection for schools that were previously exempt from routine inspection due to an outstanding grade will depend on when the inspection was that graded that school outstanding. In some cases, this may be the date its predecessor school was inspected.
NEW: Anonymity Protection Section 113
The new framework further emphasises the importance of anonymity. Inspectors are required to protect the identity of individuals when drawing from evidence collected in informal meetings or consultations. This ensures the protection of personal information while maintaining the integrity of the inspection process.
'Inspectors may also gather evidence from pupils, parents or other stakeholders in person. This may include informal meetings at the start and/or end of the day. In drawing on evidence from these meetings, every attempt must be made to protect the identity of individuals. There may be circumstances, however, in which it is not possible to guarantee the anonymity of the interviewee. Inspectors have a duty to pass on disclosures that raise child protection or safeguarding issues and/or when there are concerns about serious misconduct, bullying of staff or criminal activity.'
UPDATED CLARITY OF TERMS: Section 177 'Capacity to improve’
The new framework places significant emphasis on a school's capacity to improve, encouraging inspectors to consider more than just a school's potential. Leaders are expected to effectively identify, prioritise, and address issues, demonstrate a track record of improvement, and use both internal and external support where necessary.
‘In deciding whether schools have the capacity to improve, inspectors should not simply consider a school’s potential but the extent to which leaders:
- are able to identify and prioritise the right issues (shown by the accurate identification of the issues and effective evaluation processes to identify any future issues)
- take appropriate and timely action to address the identified issues, including the effective use of internal and external support, where necessary
- have a track record of improvement, even if the desired outcome has not yet been achieved, so that there is confidence that improvements will be swift and sustainable
- have done all that they can be reasonably expected to do in the time available and the circumstances in which they work'
UPDATED CLARITY OF TERMS: Section 363 ‘Culture of Safeguarding’
The updated framework underlines the necessity for an open and positive culture around safeguarding that prioritises pupils' interests. This includes both online and offline protection, training for those working with pupils, listening to views and experiences of pupils, staff and parents, and maintaining effective child protection arrangements.
‘All schools should have an open and positive culture around safeguarding that puts pupils’ interests first. This means they:
- protect pupils from serious harm, both online and offline
- are vigilant, maintaining an attitude of ‘it could happen here’
- are open and transparent, sharing information with others and actively seeking expert advice when required
- ensure that all those who work with pupils are trained well so that they understand their responsibilities and the systems and processes that the school operates and are empowered to ‘speak out’ where there may be concerns
- actively seek and listen to the views and experiences of pupils, staff and parents, taking prompt but proportionate action to address any concerns, where needed
- have appropriate child protection arrangements, which:
a. identify pupils who may need early help, and who are at risk of harm or have been harmed. This can include, but is not limited to, neglect, abuse (including by their peers), grooming, exploitation, sexual abuse and online harm
b. secure the help that pupils need and, if required, refer in a timely way to those who have the expertise to help
c. manage safe recruitment and allegations about adults who may be a risk to pupils
d. are receptive to challenge and reflective of their own practices to ensure that safeguarding policies, systems and processes are kept under continuous review
Inspectors will not grade this aspect of a school’s work. However, inspectors will always make a written judgement under ‘leadership and management’ in the report about whether the arrangements for safeguarding pupils are effective.'
UPDATED CLARITY OF TERMS: Section 352. Separation by sex
In line with equality legislation, the updated framework stresses that schools should avoid separating pupils based on protected characteristics such as sex, religion, or belief unless permitted by an exception under the Equality Act 2010. If unlawful discrimination is suspected, inspectors are instructed to seek legal advice and clearly outline any found discrimination in the inspection report.
‘Schools have an obligation not to discriminate against pupils on the basis of protected characteristics. It may be unlawful for schools to separate pupils on the basis of any protected characteristic such as sex, religion, belief or gender reassignment (if the separation is something which, in Ofsted’s view, a reasonable pupil might complain about) while at school, and is unlawful to do so in respect of race, unless permitted by an exception under the Equality Act 2010, such as:
positive action to alleviate a disadvantage associated with a certain characteristic. This could, for example, include pupils of one race or sex getting additional work experience in a sector in which they are under-represented, or separating the pupils by sex for teaching in subjects if the school has evidence that that this improves their academic outcomes (section 158). Any positive action must be proportionate'
Link to document: