Closed petition Urgently review the current Ofsted Framework and associated methodology
In light of recent events, and in meaningful consultation with the sector, review the Ofsted framework and methodology, which we believe are overly burdensome and do little to improve school performance. Government should urgently consider the impact of Ofsted on the wellbeing of education staff.
The Ofsted framework and methodology must be reviewed so that inspection is a supportive tool that brings about meaningful change via a professional and respectful process.
This petition is closed All petitions run for 6 months
This response was given on 6 April 2023
Ofsted inspections are hugely important in providing assurance on educational standards and safeguarding, and prompting improvement. Arrangements are always kept under review, and that will continue.
Our thoughts remain with the family, friends and all those in the wider school community who have been affected by the tragedy of recent events. A coroner’s inquest has opened, and it is important that this runs its course. The Department for Education is continuing to offer support to Caversham Primary School at this challenging time.
Such a shocking event has understandably led to an outpouring of grief and concern from many people in the education sector, and to a questioning of Ofsted and school inspection.
The Government recognises, and is enormously grateful for, the professionalism and commitment of headteachers, teachers and staff, as they seek each day to make a difference to children’s lives by providing them with a high quality education and keeping them safe.
It is committed to supporting the wellbeing and mental health of school staff. As part of this, the Department for Education is funding a programme, delivered by the charity Education Support. This provides supervision and counselling from experts to school leaders. School leaders can access support via the Education Support website: www.educationsupport.org.uk/get-help/help-for-your-staff/wellbeing-services/school-and-fe-leaders-service/
Every part of the education system, including Ofsted, has its part to play in ensuring that children receive the high quality education they deserve, and are kept safe.
Ofsted’s role is to provide an independent assessment of the quality of education being provided for pupils; the leadership of the school; pupils’ behaviour and attitudes; pupils’ wider personal development; and their safety. Inspections seek to recognise and celebrate successful practice where it is seen and to identify where there are weaknesses, so that improvements can be made for the benefit of pupils.
Ofsted’s inspections are hugely important in providing assurance to parents. Almost 8 in 10 parents of school-age children are aware of the Ofsted rating of their child’s school, and Ofsted receives around 14,500 individual parent views about schools, through its Parent View portal, during each week of inspection.
Inspections also provide assurance to the wider community and to the Government. 88 per cent of schools in England are currently judged to be providing a ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’ education for their pupils. Where this is not the case, the Government uses Ofsted’s reports and grades to trigger support and intervention to bring about improvement. For example, school improvement support is available to schools that ‘require improvement’, and where there is an urgent need for significant improvement, a school may be transferred to a high quality academy trust.
Ofsted inspections are carried out by former and current school leaders. They understand the important work headteachers, teachers and school staff do, the challenges they face, and the pressures they are under. Their aim is always to do good as they carry out their work.
Inspectors inspect against the Education Inspection Framework, which is grounded in the latest research. It was developed with great care and extensive engagement with schools, and was tested rigorously through pilot inspections before being introduced in September 2019. The consultation attracted 15,000 responses, the largest in Ofsted’s history. Teachers and headteachers were the largest groups of respondents (34% and 33% respectively). The core proposals received an extremely positive response. More than three-quarters of respondents supported Ofsted’s approach to the key judgements set out within the Framework.
The inspection methodology emphasises professional dialogue, respect and collaborations with schools throughout.
Ofsted surveys schools after each inspection, and the findings of these surveys show that over 9 in 10 respondents are satisfied with the way the inspection was carried out. A similar proportion agree that judgements made by inspectors were justified based on the evidence collected; and that the inspection will help them to improve further.
The vast majority of Ofsted’s work is carried out without issue. Ofsted’s analysis of complaints from school shows that only around 5% of inspection activity results in a formal complaint. Ofsted is currently reviewing its complaints process.
Ofsted is statutorily obliged to evaluate the efficiency and effectiveness of its operations, including its inspection frameworks. It carries out ongoing work on this to help evaluate and improve inspection practice, policy and inspector training. Ofsted’s Strategy report (2022-27) www.gov.uk/government/publications/ofsted-strategy-2022-to-2027 includes a commitment to evaluating the performance of the Education Inspection Framework.
The Government always keeps the inspection system under review, and will continue to do so, engaging with Ofsted and with the sector.
Department for Education
MPs call for major changes to school inspections
MPs on the House of Commons Education Committee have called for major changes to school inspections, following an inquiry into Ofsted's work with schools.
What has the Committee said?
On 29 January, the Committee published a report on Ofsted's work with schools.
The report calls on Ofsted and the Government to implement measures including:
- Developing an alternative to the single-word judgements that better captures the complex nature of a school's performance
- Reviewing the support mechanisms available to school leaders during and following an inspection
- Consulting on a new approach to inspecting elements of safeguarding
You can read a summary of the Committee's report, and the Committee's full report on their website. You can also find out more about the Committee's work on Ofsted's work with schools.
The Government now must now respond to the Committee's report. The Committee will publish the Government’s response on its website. We'll share this with you when it is published.
What is the Education Committee?
The Education Committee is a cross-party group of backbench MPs that scrutinises the work of the Department for Education, covering children's social care, schools, colleges, the early years and higher education.
- Find out more about the Committee on its website
- Follow the Committee on X (formerly Twitter) for updates on its work
The Education Committee is a select committee. Find out how select committees work.
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