New research shows that headteacher retention rates have fallen since 2012, giving cause for concern. ‘Keeping Your Head: NFER Analysis of Headteacher Retention’ found that higher retention is seen in schools rated as Good or Outstanding by Ofsted and lower retention is seen in schools rated as Inadequate.
The NFER found that accountability pressures are present at all Ofsted grades which is why Ofsted have made great efforts to support schools and meet the folklores and legends associated with Ofsted head-on.
Some might feel that further changes to the inspection framework and to performance means ‘moving the goalposts’ but these changes either reflect changes to statutory requirements or reflect the latest education policy. For example, ‘Inspecting Safeguarding in Early Years Education and Skills’ (September 2016) reflect changes to the latest version of ‘Keeping Children Safe in Education’.
All change please
Changes to the way Ofsted inspect have been substantial. For example,
- there is a new Common Inspection Framework (CIF)
- there are short inspections for all good maintained schools and academies
- short inspections also apply to good and outstanding special schools, pupil referral units and maintained nursery schools
- full inspections for all non-association independent schools within 3 years
The key is to understand the changes and be prepared and Ofsted are very keen to do all they can to remove pressures on schools to ‘get ready for inspection’. All headteachers need to be familiar with the new CIF and I recommend taking a look at a headteacher briefing by Sue Frater HMI is also well worth a look as her presentation takes you through all the key changes step by step in more detail and will help you to focus on what matters rather than what others might be telling you.
You can also refer to the Keynote by David Brown HMI given at the Bett School Leaders Summit 2016 where he focuses on the Common Inspection Framework and Shorter Inspections.
All key changes that you need to know can also be found from Ofsted by visiting here.
Ofsted expectations for schools remain unchanged and the onus is on school leaders to demonstrate positive impact in whatever aspect is under scrutiny. However, there are many myths that still do the rounds based on the terror tales and scaremongering that belong in the fiction section of Waterstones. Dangerous half-truths and total nonsense have tainted Ofsted as ‘toxic’ and inspections have brought about some damaging unintended side-effects which have fuelled more misunderstandings and instilled more pressure. Take a look at what Ofsted’s National Director Sean Harford has to say in the following video here.
An absolute must-read for any headteacher is the Ofsted clarification document ‘Ofsted inspections: myths’ as this sets out hard facts and not fantasy fiction concerning Ofsted’s requirements and explodes the persistent and ridiculous notions that often lead to unnecessary workloads and added stress. This should be read alongside the School inspection handbook.
Ofsted have recently released another myth-busting document and this exposes the misconceptions and specific practices that are not required in early years inspections. As Ofsted's Early Education Deputy Director Gill Jones says, “We’re not in the game of tricking people or catching them out. We’re looking to see settings as they are. We don’t want people worrying about what they think we require, when that may not be the case.”
Ofsted also have a number of videos on their YouTube channel that are well worth viewing that feature some of the classic myths and worse offences.
Remember, you shouldn’t be doing anything because of Ofsted, only for the children and as always you need to be clear about your self-evaluation, demonstrate high expectations and collect robust evidence.
Despite the overwhelmingly negative view of Ofsted, research shows school inspections can be a key feature of school improvement because they unlock valuable knowledge about the performance of individual schools and point towards great practice in high quality teaching and learning.