Updates to School Inspection Handbook – what are the main changes?

On 13 October 2017, Ofsted updated the School Inspection Handbook for section 5 inspections, section 8 (short inspections) and provided additional clarification for schools. The changes took effect on 30 October 2017.

School Inspection Handbook

The main changes are as follows:

  • Outcomes for pupils has been amended to reflect changes to the current GCSE grading system of A* to C to the reformed grades being 9-4.
  • Inspectors' planning and preparation. The lead inspector will prepare for inspection by analysing multiple bits of evidence, which has been expanded to include, analysing the new Inspection Data Summary Report (IDSR), alongside the Analyse School Performance (ASP) data.
  • Clarification for schools. Previous myths and misunderstandings about the requirements of Ofsted inspections have been clarified. The clarification is intended to highlight specific practices that are not required by Ofsted. Inspectors must not favour a particular method of planning, teaching or assessment. It is for the schools to determine their practices on their own merits rather than by referring to the inspection handbook.
  • Clarification of arrangements. Pre inspection, the inspector should contact the school to make arrangements for meeting key members of staff, this now includes making arrangements for a meeting with the chair of the governing body or, where appropriate, the chair of the board of trustees, depending on whether the school is an academy or not.
  • Schools receiving 'require improvement' or 'inadequate' judgements. Where there is early evidence that the school might be judged as inadequate or requires improvement, the lead inspector should alert the headteacher of this risk, and now needs to carefully consider the school's overall effectiveness of safeguarding to pupils.

School Inspection Handbook: Section 8 – the main changes:

  • Short inspections of good schools. An update has been provided on the short inspections of good schools following the outcomes of a recent consultation on the proposals for changes to Ofsted's approach to these inspections.The proposals include:
    • extending the window for the conversion of short inspections to section 5 inspections from the current 48 hour period to a maximum of 7 working days after inspection
    • following October half-term 2017, Ofsted will begin by conducting a section 5 inspection, where there is an indication that the inspectors may need to obtain more evidence to reach judgement about the school.
  • Clarification about engaging with those responsible of governance. The inspector should engage with those responsible for governance of the school, which has been updated to include, engaging with the chief executives or the equivalents where the school is an academy.
  • Her Majesty's Inspectors (HMI) preparation. When HMI are preparing for inspection, they must review several bits of data, this has been updated to include, reviewing data from ASP and the inspection dashboard.

This is just a brief summary of the main changes to the Ofsted handbooks, further information will be available once the update is published at the end of this month.