Westminster Education Forum

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The new Ofsted inspection framework - implementation progress, adapting to the impact of COVID-19, remote learning, and regulation of apprenticeship providers and FE colleges

April 2021

Price: £95 PLUS VAT

***Full-scale policy conference taking place online***
This conference focuses on the next steps for the new Ofsted inspection framework, following its initial implementation in September - against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic, school closures and increased remote learning.

Areas for discussion include:

  • implementation of the new framework - the view from Ofsted, how schools are adapting, the impact of school closures, and return to full inspections
  • the new inspection judgments - quality of education, provision of remote and blended learning, and ensuring a broad and balanced curriculum against the background of the pandemic
  • inspecting further education institutions and apprenticeships - measurement, consistency, and quality

The discussion is bringing stakeholders together with parliamentary pass-holders from the House of Commons Library and key policy officials who are due to attend from Ofsted; the DfE; Estyn; the Government Equalities Office; the Government Legal Department; HMPPS; the MOD and the MoJ.

The agenda:

  • Priorities for inspection and school accountability in the wake of the pandemic
  • Judging schools post-pandemic
  • The current state of play for Ofsted inspections and supporting standards - impact of school closures, experience of Ofsted visits, and of the return to full education inspections
  • Inspecting apprenticeship, FE and HE providers - catching up with measuring standards, and ensuring consistency in regulation and the quality of courses
  • Remote learning - raising standards and measuring quality
  • The new inspection judgements in exceptional circumstances - assessing the quality of education, provision of blended learning, and ensuring a broad and balanced curriculum

Areas for discussion:

  • learning from the experience of school closures - including impact on maintenance and regulation of standards moving forward, with only the most urgent inspections taking place during lockdown
  • Ofsted visits to schools and colleges - looking at how they have worked in practice, with suggestions that:
    • they would be a potential distraction for schools and risk becoming judgemental
    • schools should be anonymised in the post-visit report and the outcomes not directly addressed to parents
    • the schools visited in the autumn be exempt from a future inspection for the rest of the academic year
  • the intended return to full Ofsted inspections from the summer term:
    • with some suggestions that schools should be allowed to focus on dealing with any further COVID-19 outbreaks, pupil safety, and prioritising supporting students who are still catching up
  • the new inspection framework - expected to begin again from the summer term, looking at:
    • the four new judgements - looking at how schools are adapting to assessments of the quality of education, behaviour and attitudes, personal development, and leadership and management
    • teacher workload - progress made by schools in its reduction following introduction of new framework
    • assessing the room for adjustments - how the quality of education and curricula can be judged in the exceptional circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic
    • the curriculum:
      • quality of education - changes made by schools to meet the new judgement criteria prior to lockdown
      • balancing priorities - squaring the need for students to catch up in core subjects with the new framework’s emphasis on the importance of a broad and balanced curriculum
      • resumption - best practice in ensuring a smooth return to a full curriculum
    • quality of remote learning - with increasing calls for Ofsted to have a greater role in assessment, particularly with the introduction of another lockdown
      • inspection - lessons learnt from Ofsted’s school and college visits through the autumn of 2020, with their focus on blended learning, and both on-site and remote provision
      • practicalities - options for arranging oversight for remote and blended learning
      • identifying different criteria - how the pedagogical differences in online and in-person learning might warrant different approaches for measuring and reinforcing standards 
  • measuring standards for apprenticeships and further education courses:
    • adapting to the new framework - and the experience of education colleges and training providers of Ofsted’s autumn monitoring visits
    • guidance on inspections - assessing its provision to further education providers by Ofsted
    • the experience of learners - how they have been enabled by providers to access full provision of education, and taking into account remote education and safeguarding during the pandemic
    • remote education - how the experience of lockdown can inform providers on how to improve their online strategies going forward
    • consistent regulation - priorities for ensuring it takes place going forward
    • degree apprenticeships - examining the plans for Ofsted inspections of level 6 and 7 degree apprenticeships

Relevant developments at a glance:

  • the new Education inspection framework - introduced in September 2019, and followed by the suspension of routine inspections in March 2020
  • phased return to inspections - Ofsted reporting:
    • the resumption of monitoring inspections for schools and further education providers previously judged inadequate, with inspections initially taking place remotely
    • that inspections will focus on the quality of remote education - with:
      • Ofsted publishing a guide on what works well in remote education
      • schools expected to provide high quality remote learning now that school attendance has been limited to the children of keyworkers and those judged as vulnerable
    • routine inspections and grading will not be reintroduced until the summer term
  • Ofsted Annual Report 2019/20 - key findings: 
    • schools - the percentage judged good or outstanding dropped from 80% to 77%, with issues being found in the provision of SEND arrangements, and over half of inspections requiring a written statement of action to address weaknesses
    • further education - as a whole, the number of Independent Learning Providers judged good or outstanding has dropped by 1%, decreasing for the fourth consecutive year, with key findings that providers did not work closely enough with employers, and that leaders were not held to account in identifying aspects of provision that needed improvement 
  • Future inspection of Cafcass from 2021 - Ofsted’s recent consultation on new approaches to bringing Cafcass inspections more in line with those for other children’s social care-related services
  • Remote education research - the recently published Ofsted research into remote learning, highlighting the importance of good pedagogy, live lessons being complimented by independent work, and the challenge of pupil engagement and motivation, as well as finding teacher workload and well-being to be an increasing challenge

Policy officials attending:

Our forums are known for attracting strong interest from policymakers and stakeholders. Places have been reserved by parliamentary pass-holders from the House of Commons, and officials from Ofsted; the Department for Education; Estyn; the Government Equalities Office; Government Legal Department; HM Prison and Probation Service; the Ministry of Defence and the Ministry of Justice.

Overall, we expect speakers and attendees to be a senior and informed group including Members of both Houses of Parliament, senior government and regulatory officials involved in this area of policy as well as schools and teaching professionals, representatives of trade unions and local government, exam boards, subject associations, accountability experts, groups representing parents, education consultancies, assessment providers, specialist academics and charities, together with reporters from the national and trade media.

This is a full-scale conference taking place online***

  • full, four-hour programme including comfort breaks - you’ll also get a full recording and transcript to refer back to
  • information-rich discussion involving key policymakers and stakeholders
  • conference materials provided in advance, including speaker biographies
  • speakers presenting via webcam, accompanied by slides if they wish, using the Cisco WebEx professional online conference platform (easy for delegates - we’ll provide full details)
  • opportunities for live delegate questions and comments with all speakers
  • a recording of the addresses, all slides cleared by speakers, and further materials, is made available to all delegates afterwards as a permanent record of the proceedings
  • delegates are able to add their own written comments and articles following the conference, to be distributed to all attendees and more widely
  • networking too - there will be opportunities for delegates to e-meet and interact - we’ll tell you how!

Full information and guidance on how to take part will be sent to delegates before the conference

This pack includes

  • Dropbox video recording of the conference
  • PDF transcript of the discussion, including all speaker remarks and Q&A
  • PDFs of speakers' slide material (subject to permission)
  • PDFs of the delegate pack, including speaker biographies and attendee list
  • PDFs of delegate articles