Welcome! Here is our first newsletter. Hopefully, it contains information that is useful for you, your staff and governors. Some information will be familiar and some should be new. Moving forward, it may be that yourself or a member of staff who has something particularly interesting to share, particularly in relation to teaching and learning, could contribute to future newsletters.
The newsletter for this term includes the following articles:
- Preparing for a short inspection
- Safeguarding and its heightened focus for inspection
- Exploring Ofsted inspection data with Data View
- Summary of HMCI November Statement – 21st century governance needed for 21st century schools
- Linking the growth of an Improvement Culture, Performance Management and Professional Development
- Coasting schools
- KS2 floor standard for 2016
- Parent View toolkit for schools
- Securing your school improvement needs when becoming a MAT
- Mastery Learning
- Document library update
To read a section, click on the heading below to expand it. The first section is expanded by default; you can close it by clicking on the heading.
Preparing for a Short Inspection
1. A brief summary of the section “Principles for working with the headteacher, senior leaders and governors on short inspections” within the Section 8 handbook identifies the following.
The main purpose of the short inspection is to evaluate:
- whether the school remains good;
- whether safeguarding is effective or not;
- the capacity of all leaders, managers and governors to drive continued improvement;
- how well the school has dealt with any areas for improvement identified at the previous section 5 inspection.
At the first meeting, school leaders will summarise their evaluation of the school’s current performance and HMI will discuss the initial lines of enquiry. Therefore, there is no ‘standard’ short inspection timetable and every short inspection is different.
Inspectors will visit lessons to gather evidence about teaching, learning and assessment and will consider this first-hand evidence alongside any documentary evidence about the quality of teaching and views from leaders, governors, staff, pupils and parents. Lessons will not be graded.
HMI will agree with the headteacher the strategy for selecting which classes to visit. For example, HMI may want the headteacher to direct them to a class where teaching is particularly effective. They will wish to hear about how leaders have sustained and developed further the good teaching in the school and the impact of leaders’ work to support any staff to improve their practice.
Parent View responses will be reviewed throughout the inspection and schools should actively encourage parents to complete Parent View as early as possible by placing a link on their website to the Parent View website.
You can access the handbook here: School inspection handbook: section 8 – Ofsted.
2. A few top tips.
Although you are probably already doing these things, it is still worth a reminder.
- Because a governor may not be able to get into school, have a daytime availability list of school governors in case the inspector would like to contact one.
- Safeguarding has a very high focus.
- Complete regular spot checks on the single central record to ensure it is fully up to date.
- Have case studies of referrals and include how the referral was made and the thoroughness of any follow-up.
- Keep robust work scrutiny evidence reports.
- Place all statutory documents in one place on the school website (and ensure they are up to date).
- Keep some sample marked evidence of work from the previous year, to help show progression over time.
- Allocate a member of staff to be free for the day to assist, as the head and deputy/deputies may be needed on learning walks.
- Maintain detailed, regularly updated curriculum information on the website.
- Ensure governors are very clear about the impact they have had against school priorities and the statements pertaining to governance in the inspection handbook.
- Remember to identify if any staff who are subject to capability procedures, as these staff will not be seen by HMI.
- It is your inspection to own. Own it!
3. Documents the HMI will want to see. Although you will very familiar with this list, please take particular note of those documents pertaining to safeguarding and governance.
- A summary of any school self-evaluation or equivalent.
- The current school improvement plan or equivalent, including any strategic planning that sets out the longer-term vision for the school.
- School timetable, current staff list and times for the school day.
- Any information about pre-planned interruptions to normal school routines during the inspection.
- The single central record of the checks and vetting of all staff working with pupils.
- Records and analysis of exclusions, pupils taken off roll and incidents of poor behaviour; any use of internal isolation.
- Records and analysis of bullying, discriminatory and prejudicial behaviour, either directly or indirectly, including racist, disability and homophobic bullying, use of derogatory language and racist incidents.
- A list of referrals made to the designated person for safeguarding in the school and those that were subsequently referred to the local authority, along with brief details of the resolution.
- A list of all pupils who are open cases to children’s services/social care and for whom there is a multi-agency plan.
- Up-to-date attendance analysis for all groups of pupils.
- Records of the evaluation of the quality of teaching, learning and assessment.
- Information about the school’s performance management arrangements, including the most recent performance management outcomes and their relationship to salary progression, in an anonymised format.
- Documented evidence of the work of governors and their priorities.
- Any reports of external evaluation of the school, including any review of governance or use of the pupil premium funding.
Jean Hopegood, the headteacher of Selwood Academy in Somerset
School Inspection Handbook
Safeguarding and its Heightened Focus for Inspections
You will all be aware of the heightened focus on safeguarding within inspections and will have attended many training sessions and briefings. I know many of you are familiar with Andrew Hall (Specialist Safeguarding Consultant) but, just in case, he is a man worth knowing. In addition to offering a wealth of resources and other services, he writes monthly briefings and continually sends information updates. These keep you fully up to speed with all safeguarding issues and he offers recommendations for action. They are a fantastic resource, including for your safeguarding governor, and registration for the monthly briefings can be made at http://www.safeguardinginschools.co.uk/.
As a brief reminder, here are some of key points emerging from the safeguarding brief published by Ofsted:
- Inspectors will look for five main aspects of a school’s safeguarding arrangements. These are:
- the extent to which leaders, governors and managers create a positive culture and ethos where safeguarding is an important part of everyday life in the setting, backed up by training at every level
- the application and effectiveness of safeguarding policies and safe recruitment and vetting processes;
- the quality of safeguarding practice, including evidence that staff are aware of the signs that children or learners may be at risk of harm either within the setting or in the family or wider community outside the setting;
- the timeliness of response to any safeguarding concerns that are raised;
- the quality of work to support multi-agency plans around the child or learner.
- Some aspects, particularly the Prevent duty, are given a high priority in the guidance.
- The new guidance is a good opportunity for schools to review their policies and procedures.
- The responsibilities of governing bodies, together with school leaders, include:
- to contribute to inter-agency working to support children and learners who have additional needs;
- to have due regard to the need to prevent people from being drawn into terrorism in accordance with the Counter-Terrorism and Security Act 2015;
- to carry out reasonable checks, for example, for links with extremism, on all visitors who are intending to work with children, learners and/or staff, or to address assemblies;
- to ensure that an effective child protection policy is in place, together with a staff behaviour policy, where applicable;
- to appoint a designated safeguarding lead and, in schools and colleges, to ensure that they should undergo child protection training every two years;
- to prioritise the welfare of children and learners, and create a culture where staff are confident to challenge senior leaders over any safeguarding concerns;
- to make sure that children and learners are taught how to keep themselves safe.
Evidence routinely collected should include:
- referrals made to the designated person for safeguarding;
- referrals made to the local authority;
- outcomes of referrals;
- a list of all pupils who are open cases to children’s services/social care and for whom there is a multi-agency plan;
- the single central record of checks and vetting of staff;
- records and analysis of exclusions;
- record of pupils taken off roll – wherever possible, ensure that there is an explanation for why this is and where each pupil is;
- record of use of internal isolation;
- record of racist incidents;
- records and analysis of bullying, discriminatory and prejudicial behaviour, including derogatory language;
- evidence of what the school does when it suspects that pupils are vulnerable to the dangers of abuse, sexual exploitation, radicalisation and extremism.
Below is a checklist of aspects that your safeguarding/child protection policies should refer to:
- Neglect, physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse
- Bullying, including online bullying and prejudice-based bullying
- Racist, disability and homophobic or transphobic abuse
- Gender-based violence/violence against women and girls
- Radicalisation and/or extremist behaviour
- Child sexual exploitation and trafficking
- The impact of new technologies on sexual behaviour, e.g. sexting
- Teenage relationship abuse
- Substance misuse
- Issues specific to a local area, e.g. gang activity
- Domestic violence
- Female genital mutilation
- Forced marriage
- Fabricated or induced illness
- Poor parenting, particularly in relation to babies and young children
School Inspection + Improvement – Safeguarding: A Priority for Inspectors
Exploring Ofsted Inspection data with Data View (Re-launched Dec 15)
What is Data View?
Data View is a digital tool that allows Ofsted inspection data to be viewed in a simple and visual way. Schools can compare and contrast the overall effectiveness grades between regions, local authorities and parliamentary consituencies over a five year period.
Why is Data View useful for schools?
It supports school leaders in their self-evaluation because it enables them to contextualise judgements about the effectiveness of the school. For example, a school may be high performing relative to other schools in their local authority , but performance when compared with other local authorities in their region may be weaker. Similarly, a school may be low performing in its local authority, but very high performing in its constituency.
Schools can also evaluate their performance in relation to deprivation levels. This can be particularly useful for schools located in areas where its level of deprivation is not typical for the local authority.
What does Data View show?
- The number of providers at each overall effectiveness grade
- The percentage of providers at each grade
- The number of learners/places in provision at each grade
- The percentage of learners/places in provision at each grade
- Inspection outcomes for providers with a particular level of deprivation
There is a variety of filters that enable providers to compare effectiveness with similar provision. The groups of providers included in Data View are early years, children’s centres, maintained schools, independent schools, initial teacher training, further education and skills
Who is Data View useful for?
It is particularly for useful for leaders and governors because it enables them to consider the school’s effectiveness within a wider context and come to an objective evaluation about issues such as expectation levels.
Where can I find Data View
Data presented in Data View is released as official statistics at:
Ofsted Exploring Ofsted inspection data with Data View
HMCI November Statement – 21st Century Governance Needed for 21st Century Schools
- The role that governance plays in ensuring that every child receives the best possible education has never been more important.
- Our increasingly autonomous education system has placed more power into the hands of governing boards than ever before.
- Therefore, HMCI has asked inspectors, when they make a judgement on governance, to focus particularly on training and the arrangements schools are making to source expertise in this vital work.
- HMCI acknowledges it would be unrealistic for every unrealistic to expect every member of the governing board to have a deep knowledge of educational issues. However, for the 2 or 3 people who hold the most senior roles on the board, and who could be responsible for ‘cascading’ training to other members, he believes this is essential.
- Three years ago, HMCI argued that:
- a more professional approach to school governance was needed, especially in our most challenging schools serving the most deprived communities;
- the first sign that a school was in decline or in difficulty should trigger intervention by the local authority, academy sponsor or the Department for Education;
- payment to governors (particular the chair and vice-chair with the necessary expertise to challenge and support schools with a long legacy of underachievement should not be ruled out.
Largely, these arguments have not been acted upon and the need for decisive action is even more pressing.
- As a consequence, HMCI has commissioned inspectors to carry out a survey into the effectiveness of governance in our schools. The survey will:
- examine whether governing boards have the right mix of professional skills and experience needed to perform their increasingly important role;
- assess whether the time has now arrived to make provision for paid governance;
- look at whether local authorities, Regional School Commissioners and others intervene early enough when problems with the governance of a school are spotted between Ofsted inspections;
- explore whether in an increasingly diverse system, the right structures are in place to support governors and trustees, and to deliver the training they need to hold schools to account;
- investigate the level of guidance and support governors receive for headship appointments;
- look at the extent to which governors are involved in succession planning for school leaders;
- look at whether external reviews of governance are an effective tool for improving standards;
- look at the role performed by National Leaders of Governance and whether there are enough of them to make a difference;
- examine some of the specific challenges facing governors of standalone academies;
- explore the relationship between multi-academy trusts and their local governing boards. Our survey will seek to determine the extent to which their respective roles are clearly defined and delineated.
- A call for evidence to inform this piece of work from anyone who has views and experience to contribute has now been launched.
- The report will be published next year.
Linking the Growth of an Improvement Culture, Performance Management and Professional Development
Too often these are treated as separate things, to be carried out independently rather than as processes which are interrelated and should be viewed as one. The questions for schools are:
- “What practices and processes can we put in place to make these integrated?” and
- “What systems can support them?”
The other crucial question is:
- “How can we develop a learning culture which will really move the school forward?”
The Education Endowment Foundation identifies the interventions and strategies which are the most effective in bringing about improvements in pupils’ learning and progress. They are:
- Collaborative learning
- Meta cognition and self regulation
- Peer tutoring
- Social and emotional learning
The National College for School Leadership (in School Community Partnerships) also identified aspects that the most successful schools have in common:
- Teachers talk about teaching
- Teachers observe each others teaching
- Teachers plan and evaluate teaching together
- Teachers teach each other
It is possible to match these:
teachers talk about teaching ↔ meta cognition;
teachers observe each others teaching ↔ feedback;
teachers plan and evaluate teaching together ↔ collaborative learning;
teachers teach each other ↔ peer tutoring;
…with Social and Emotional Learning acting as a sort of “glue” across them all. This could also be defined as the culture of the school.
Ofsted also recognise the importance of each of the above. Within the latest Framework they focus on whether:
- leaders and governors have created a culturethat enables pupils and staff to excel;
- leaders and governors use incisive performance managementthat leads to professional development that encourages, challenges and supports teachers’ improvement;
- staff reflect on and debate the way they teach. They feel deeply involved in their own professional development.
Initially the ‘coasting’ school measure was intended only for maintained schools. However, the government has now announced a proposal for this measure to also include academies.
A primary school will be ‘coasting’ if:
- In 2014 and 2015 fewer than 85% of children achieve Level 4 in reading, writing and maths
- It has also seen below-average proportions of pupils making expected progress across Key Stage 2.
For the 2016 year, the ‘coasting’ level will be set against the new accountability measures for primary schools.
Where a school is identified as ‘coasting’, the regional schools commissioners will assess the school’s improvement plan. Schools that have the capacity to improve will receive support from expert headteachers. If a school cannot improve it will be turned into an academy under the leadership of a sponsor.
Based upon 2014 and 2015 results, inspectors will know if a school is at risk of meeting the ‘coasting’ criteria and will expect to see strong evidence that performance will improve in 2016.
KS2 Floor Standard for 2016
In 2016, progress in primary schools will be reported from KS1 to KS2, whichever is better for the school.
Primary schools will be above the floor standard if:
- pupils make sufficient progress in reading and writing and maths from KS1 and KS2
- 65% or more of pupils meet the new expected standard in reading and writing and maths
Please note: Under current proposals, from 2022, schools that choose not to use an approved baseline assessment from 2016 will have a floor standard based on attainment only.
Make sure pupil progress meetings include a focus on progress in reading, writing and maths combined and not by individual subjects. Venn diagrams are a very helpful visual tool for teachers.
Parent View Toolkit for Schools
‘Parent View Toolkit for Schools’ was published in October 2015 by Ofsted. It explains key facts about Parent View and contains materials that can be adapted and used by schools to raise awareness of Parent View to parents.
From September 2015, there is an extra free-text question: ‘Do you have any additional comments on any of your answers?’ This is only available when a school is being inspected and these comments are not published. A disclaimer for this question explains that parents should not use this for urgent issues, safeguarding concerns or complaints. It explains that users’ comments are confidential and anonymised and that parents will not be contacted about their comments.
For short inspections, Parent View is likely to assume greater importance if a school does not have a recent and secure evidence base of the views of parents.
There is a threshold of 10 responses before information will be available on the website for schools, parents/carers and the general public to view.
Schools will also be able to sign up to the Parent View site to receive regular email alerts about Parent View responses once the results are made public. Subscribers can choose how often they want to receive alerts – for example daily, weekly or monthly.
Two suggestions are made to increase submissions:
- Guest accounts
These are easy to set up and a good way of encouraging parents to complete the survey, particularly at parents’ evenings and school events. This approach is definitely worth considering if you are able to make computers available for parents to use. With a guest account, parents use logins created for the school. This makes it easier for them to provide a review. To set up guest accounts, email firstname.lastname@example.org. Please give five workings days’ notice before you need to use the accounts.
Please note: your school’s network may be set to prevent access to secure HTTPS sites. If so, you will need to remove this restriction to be able to view Parent View on your school network.
- Using a Parent View link and images
Please consider having a link to Parent View on your own website, school newsletter or when writing to parents. Schools often find that when they have actively promoted the survey with parents, their results are positive. Logos links and posters are available to download from: https://parentview.ofsted.gov.uk/link-to-us.
Ofsted – Parent View Toolkit for Schools
Securing Your School Improvement Needs When Becoming a MAT
The outcome of the spending review, the announcement that it is government intention all schools will move out of local authority control and the re-emphasis of government advice about achieving economies of scale, is likely to encourage schools to consider joining or forming MATs more than has been the case hitherto.
Below are a few school improvement issues that schools may want to give some thought to when deciding how their MAT could work in practice.
School to school support vs independent validation
Headteachers are rightly providing each other with school:school leadership support but there is also a need to consider how challenge would be delivered (particularly if tough messages need to be given).
Subject/key stage leaders are likely to need training to develop the ‘advisory skills’ required to successfully deliver school:school support.
Economies of scale – human
For external support and/or challenge, should each school ‘pay as they go’ or is there merit in the MAT employing or purchasing a block of time from a school improvement adviser?
Economies of scale – material
Are there opportunities for making economies of scale with regard to learning resources, reprographics, IT, etc?
Reporting outcomes of monitoring and evaluation and pupil achievement
What level of detail will be reported to and to whom (is all information reported to the Trust Board or some delegated to the LGB)?
Access to ‘external agencies’ for
Is there merit in a group of schools employing key agencies such as speecha nd language therapists?
Keeping up to date with best practice and new initiatives
How will subject leaders ensure they are fully up to date with national and local developments?
Are there ways and is it desirable to centralise some school improvement tools, such as software to collect information on teaching and learning?
There have been many mixed messages about the term ‘mastery’ so it was pleasing when the Final Report of the Commission on Assessment Without Levels was published.
The report states that:
” ‘Mastery learning’ is a specific approach in which learning is broken down into discrete units and presented in logical order. Pupils are required to demonstrate mastery of the learning from each unit before being allowed to move on to the next, with the assumption that all pupils will achieve this level of mastery if they are appropriately supported. Some may take longer and need more help, but all will get there in the end. Assessment is built into this process. Following high-quality instruction, pupils undertake formative assessment that shows what they have learned well and what they still need to work on, and identifies specific ‘corrective’ activities to help them do this. After undertaking these corrective activities (or alternative enrichment or extension activities for those who have already achieved mastery), pupils retake a parallel assessment. A large amount of high-quality research has evaluated mastery learning and found consistent and positive impacts on learning (e.g. Kulik et al, 1990; Guskey, 2012)8 . The new national curriculum is premised on this kind of understanding of mastery, as something which every child can aspire to and every teacher should promote. It is about deep, secure learning for all, with extension of able students (more things on the same topic) rather than acceleration (rapidly moving on to new content).Levels were not consistent with this approach because they encouraged undue pace and progression onto more difficult work while pupils still had gaps in their knowledge or understanding. In developing new approaches to assessment, schools have the opportunity to make “mastery for all” a genuine goal.”
John McIntosh CBE – Commission on Assessment Without Levels: Final Report
The library has been updated and many more links and documents have been uploaded. If you find something interesting and it’s not on there, please let me know.
You can access the library at: