Ofsted consults on inspection changes

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Views are invited on proposed changes to the school inspection regime in England.

The Office for Standards in Education, Children's Services and Skills (Ofsted) is seeking responses to a consultation on an amended education inspection framework to be introduced later this year.

Under the proposals, inspections will put greater value on what children learn through the curriculum, rather than on performance data.

They will, Ofsted suggests, “call time on the culture of ‘teaching to the test’ and off-rolling”, with the body looking at how schools, colleges and other providers results have been achieved.

Those results should, under the new regime, have been obtained thanks to a broad and rich learning experience rather than because of gaming and cramming. However, announcing the proposals, Ofsted expressed concerns that some school children are having their teaching narrowed in order to boost performance table points.

Research shows that some secondary school pupils are being forced to choose their examination subjects more than a year early. That, Ofsted claims, is resulting in many of them missing out on the arts, languages and music.

There is also evidence that, at GCSE level, pupils are being steered away from studying subjects such as history, geography, French and German in favour of those perceived by schools as being easier.

Among the main proposals up for consultation are: changing to a new “quality of education” judgment, with the curriculum at its heart; considering outcomes in context and whether they are the result of a well-delivered, coherently planned curriculum; and freeing teachers from unnecessary work by no longer using schools’ internal performance data as inspection evidence.

The consultation is available at www.gov.uk.

The deadline for responses is 5 April, with Ofsted intending to publish the final framework and inspection handbooks in time for the changes to be implemented from September 2019.

Last reviewed 28 January 2019

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