The new edition of Ofsted’s School Inspection Update provides details of how inspectors are being instructed to approach school performance data. This will be of interest to governors, trustees or academy committee members who wish to know what to expect when inspectors come to call.
Ofsted inspectors have access to a data analysts helpline during inspections and have been reminded:
not to compare results from last year to this for the new GCSEs
results for GCSEs and A levels have been stable overall and small fluctuations at school level should not be over-interpreted
to consider whether decisions made by school leaders are in the best interests of pupils
to use assessment data as a starting point for discussion rather than the only piece of evidence
not to focus on single measures with small cohorts
to treat data from key stage 2 teacher assessments with caution
Inspectors are also reminded to look out for evidence that schools may be trying to ‘game the system’, for example by entering pupils into qualifications with significant subject overlap or moving pupils to other settings.
Ofsted have reformed their inspection dashboard into a new style Inspection Dashboard Summary Report (IDSR) which focuses on trends in school performance over the previous three years.
Governing boards should, of course, already be considering how to use performance data in a meaningful way as part of a broader set of success measures, and ensuring all decisions made by themselves or school staff are in the best interests of their pupils.