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This conference discussed the future of Ofsted inspections in England and how schools are adapting to the new Education Inspection Framework.
It followed the ending of provisional arrangements that were made for the framework during the pandemic, with providers now required to develop long-term strategies for their curriculum in line with new grade descriptors in the four judgements: the quality of education; behaviour and attitudes; personal development; and leadership and management.
The conference also took place in light of Ofsted’s commitment to inspect all schools and further education providers by summer 2025, and with short-term recommendations from a recent ASCL report calling for Ofsted to:
- replace graded judgements with a narrative description of a school’s strengths and weaknesses
- inform schools in which year they will be inspected, and introduce separate frameworks for different school phases in the long-term
It was a timely opportunity for delegates to assess what has been learnt as providers have adapted to the new framework, and the ways in which schools have changed their approach to curriculum design in order to address systemic weaknesses the regulator found in the original curriculum’s design.
Attendees also looked at whether the new framework has started to tackle concerns surrounding the narrowing of the curriculum in some schools, as well as allowing for greater prominence of certain subjects such as the arts.
There was further discussion on what makes an ‘outstanding’ school, whether the link between a school’s outcomes and Ofsted judgement has changed as intended, how the workforce is adapting, and if the increased focus on curriculum has had a disproportionate impact on the workload of teachers who are preparing for inspections.
Overall, sessions focused on:
- the new Education Inspection Framework:
- implementation so far - the impact of removing COVID-19 transitional measures
- support for schools in adapting to the four new judgements - assessing inspection readiness and guideline clarity
- curriculum design: responding to an increased focus on the curriculum within the new framework - grading for intent, implementation and impact - long-term session planning
- quality and standards in subject areas: assessing breadth of teaching and learning in schools - identifying knowledge gaps - next steps following the Ofsted review recommendations
- balancing competing priorities: assessing system capacity for improvement - creating space in the school day for a broad and balanced curriculum - evaluating outcomes
- embedding enrichment programmes: integrating post-pandemic catch-up programmes into long-term planning and learning strategies
- support for the workforce:
- the role of leadership and management - assessing current workloads during inspection preparation
- examining the impact on teaching staff and students - opportunities for training and developing specialised knowledge
- inspection of online provision: the future for the Online Education Accreditation Scheme - regulation - assessing standards for teaching and learning
- student progression: minimising disruption to learners - evaluating student understanding - identifying individual needs - monitoring outcomes
We are pleased to have been able to include keynote sessions with Tim Oates, Group Director of Assessment Research and Development, Cambridge University Press and Assessment; Darren Northcott, National Official (Education), NASUWT; Tom Middlehurst, Curriculum, Assessment and Inspection Specialist, ASCL; and Katie Michelon, Senior Associate, Browne Jacobson.
The conference was an opportunity for the stakeholders to consider the issues alongside key policy officials who attended from the DfE; GLD; and Ofsted.