Amanda Spielman, HM Chief Inspector, outlined her vision for Ofsted at the Festival of Education on 23 June.
Firstly, she outlined that Ofsted will increase its “research function” in an effort to test the “validity and reliability” of the inspection process. As part of this, Ofsted will seek the views of stakeholders, including governors, “on how well [Ofsted] inform and advise” schools. The aim of this, Ms Spielman outlined, was to both inform practice as well as influence policy.
Ms Spielman also commented on the importance of the curriculum in schools, with Ofsted currently undertaking a project to look at curriculum practice in “hundreds of schools across the country”. She criticised the practice to “reduce education down” to labour market success and spoke out against preparing students for exams in year 4 and key stage 3. Ms Spielman went on to say that school leaders should ensure that teachers are “concentrating on the curriculum and the substance of education, not preparing … pupils to jump through a series of accountability hoops”. She said that rather than just focusing on accountability data, “Ofsted inspections must explore what is behind the data, asking how results have been achieved” and ensuring that “a good quality education – one that genuinely meets pupils’ needs – is not being compromised”. Commenting on the recent terror attacks across England, Ms Spielman also outlined how schools need to continue to fulfil their duty to teach students about British values through “a real civic education.”
Speaking on leadership challenges in “tough schools”, Ms Spielman recognised that pupil intake made a significant difference to accountability outcomes. She outlined that Ofsted recognise “the [role played by] leadership and management teams in overcoming” significant challenge. She outlined that Requires Improvement schools in less affluent areas were two-and-a-half times more likely to achieve a “Good” for leadership than schools in affluent areas. Continuing on the theme of school leadership, Ms Spielman outlined how too much emphasis is placed on the headteacher in “transforming a school”. Instead, schools need “strong deputies and assistants … good department heads, [an] effective business and finance manager… and, of course, governors providing strong support and challenge”. Thus, in their “public pronouncements”, Ms Spielman outlined that Ofsted would put more emphasis on the importance of school management as a whole, rather than just focusing on the headteacher.