Although there is not a new Framework, the Ofsted framework is constantly being tweaked having what can appear minor revisions in order to:
September 2013 saw several changes made to the four main areas of focus for inspectors, which we’ve summed up for you in this post. These include changes in overall focus with associated alterations to the descriptors.
The Achievement of Pupils
Changes to this section of the framework mean inspectors will be looking to obtain a clearer picture of how pupils ‘from each different starting point’ are progressing. There is now a focus on progression in English and mathematics as opposed to progression in general, preventing secondary schools that do poorly in these key subjects from covering their tracks with good progress in other areas.
Although there has been a focus on the achievement of pupil premium (PP) pupils before, this is now much higher profile, which is in-line with the movement to ‘close the achievement gap.’ There is also greater focus on the ‘most able’. Importantly, inspectors will be closely examining the pupil premium group with prior attainment starting points in order to add context to progress measurements.
Quality of Teaching
Inspectors have been told they ‘must not advocate a particular method of teaching or show preference towards a specific lesson structure’. This means that there will be less focus on technique and greater focus on performance.
There is now more emphasis on using lesson observation, book scrutinies and other similar methods to check how effective ongoing teacher assessments are. This is in keeping with the abolishment of national curriculum levels and granting schools greater curriculum freedom. There are implications for schools, who should also be making more effective use of secondary sources in arriving at judgements about teaching and learning.
Again there is more focus on ‘most able’ pupils, with teachers expected to provide these pupils with an appropriate level of challenge in order to avoid judgements of inadequate achievement and teaching.
The grade descriptor for outstanding teaching has changed to include: ‘Teachers and other adults authoritatively impart knowledge’.
Behaviour and Safety
There will be an increased focus on ‘positive attitudes to learning’, with inspectors expecting pupils to ‘consistently display a thirst for knowledge and a love of learning’. This expands on Ofsted’s previous reference to ‘attitudes to learning’ and clarifies how learners are to behave if the school is to achieve ‘outstanding’.
Quality of Leadership
Inspector’s will be more aware of senior management contribution and will take note of ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’ headteacher performance, even if the school is judged as ‘requires improvement’. They will also take note of governance and will recommend an external review if it is deemed weak.
The school curriculum must now ‘promote and sustain a thirst for knowledge and a love of learning’ in order to be judged as outstanding. It must also advocate physical well-being and a healthy lifestyle along with academic progress and SMSC.
Finally, there will be increased focus on careers advice services with schools expected to help pupils prepare for adult life in modern democratic Britain.
Sources of further information
School inspection handbook – http://www.ofsted.gov.uk/resources/school-inspection-handbook-September-2013
- Make sure that leaderhip is clearly focused on improving the quality of teaching and learning, including use of a range of evidence bases to support judgements.
- Ensure that Performance Management can be shown to be effective in improving teaching and learning.
- Be able to evidence that measures taken to close achievement gaps are having impact.
- Ensure that the curriculum is relevant, appropriate and focused on engendering a love of learning.
The Importance of Effective Monitoring and Classroom Observation
Schools have to demonstrate that their observation of teaching leads to improvement and professional development.
Questions you must be able to answer:
1. Are you observing teaching?
2. Can you provide an immediate record of all observations?
3. Can you provide an analysis of all observations showing:
- whole school strengths and areas for development?
- subject strengths and areas for development?
- individual teachers’ strengths and areas for development?
4. Can you provide robust evidence of the impact of your actions.
5. Can you show a clear link from observations to Performance Management and CPD?
Inspection and Observation
Remember, you cannot be judged as an Outstanding school unless teaching is outstanding.
During inspection much time will be spent in classrooms evaluating the quality of teaching. Observations will be variable and not follow a single approach. Many of the observations will be jointly undertaken by an inspector and a member of the school’s staff. The purpose is threefold:
1. to make judgements about teaching in a particular lesson;
2. to make judgements about the quality of teaching over time;
3. to assess the quality and accuracy of the school’s own monitoring processes (thus judging leadership)
Ensuring Judgements Are Secure
What schools must ensure is that their judgement criteria are in alignment with those used by inspectors.
The Practical Handbook for Improving Teaching and Learning
The Practical Handbook for Improving Teaching and Learning gives you a comprehensive observation framework, with descriptors explaining all levels of teaching and learning. It will ensure all staff know what Outstanding, Good, Requires Improvement and Inadequate look like. The Handbook contains a series of evidence-gathering forms that ensure your school has a complete record of how teaching and learning is being observed, supported and developed throughout your school.
The framework provides guidance on effective feedback before and after lesson observations as well as tips on how to make the best use of secondary sources such as Learning Walks, Planning Scrutinies and Book Reviews.
What do you get?
- Ofsted related Observation Framework with grade descriptors that everyone understands
- Paper and Electronic observation forms for focusing on one element of teaching or teaching as a whole
- Guidance on the observation process as a whole as well as tips on how to provide effective feedback
- Forms and guidance for gathering evidence for secondary sources such as:
- Work Sampling
- Learning Walks
- Pupil Voice
- Schemes of Work and Planning Scrutiny
- Data Analysis
- The ability to provide evidence, at all levels within the school, of professional development and how it is supported
For more information see our website, www.lessonobservations.org.uk.