The word ‘Ofsted’ can strike fear into most and leave even the strongest of people, a quivering wreck. If this is you, then you’re not alone! Between them, the consultants at SISRA have been involved in nearly 20 Ofsted inspections including HMI monitoring visits, section 8 inspections and no notice inspections. We understand how terrifying a visit from Ofsted can be, and with this blog, are aiming to help ensure that you can prepare and use your in-school data effectively to ensure that any inspections are not like a dark cloud looming over you.
What are Ofsted expecting?
Before any inspection, always ensure that you have read the latest Ofsted Inspection Handbook as well as the Ofsted myths that are available from the same link (surprising, there are quite a few myths!). Don’t let an Inspector force you into giving them data and figures that you believe could be inaccurate and stick with the facts that you know are accurate. Ofsted do not expect performance or pupil-tracking information to be presented in a particular format. The information should just be provided to the Inspector in the format that the school would ordinarily use to monitor the progress of pupils in that school. Neither do Ofsted require schools to undertake additional work specifically for the inspection which is why they normally contact the school by telephone during the afternoon of the working day before the inspection. On some occasions, Ofsted may conduct inspections without notice although when this happens, the lead inspector will normally telephone the school 15 minutes before arriving on site.
There are so many paragraphs within the Inspection Handbook, we can’t possibly comment on all of them but what we believe is important to note is that inspectors will evaluate evidence relating to the achievement of specific groups of pupils and individuals including disadvantaged pupils, the most able pupils and pupils who have special education needs and/or disabilities.
With regard to disadvantaged students, they state that they will gather evidence about the use of the pupil premium in relation to –
‘Any difference made to the learning and progress of disadvantaged pupil as shown by outcomes data and inspection evidence’
I will be using SISRA Analytics to demonstrate how we can prepare for this, but it can of course be done using Excel or within your MIS. For example within SIMS Assessment Manager, an extra student information column can be added to a marksheet by right clicking on the student name column and ticking Pupil Premium Indicator. Alternatively the marksheet can be filtered using the Group Filter icon and just showing Pupil Premium students or non-Pupil Premium Students.
In SISRA Analytics, if we take a look at our Y11 Spring assessment (fig 01) we can see at a glance what KS2 baseline our disadvantaged students entered our school with compared to non-disadvantaged and National.
If we now look at the Attainment 8 score in the Year 11 Spring term (fig 02), our disadvantaged students are now falling well below National whereas our non-disadvantaged students are achieving well.
But if we look at our SISRA Analytics tracker report (fig 03) and export this to Excel (fig 04), we can do a simple formula which shows progress between each assessment point and also progress from the Y10 Autumn assessment. We can see that progress for non-disadvantaged students is 6.18 and for disadvantaged students it is 6.17, so progress is actually very similar. So we need to be asking what happened in years 7 – 9? If we had a flightpath model or Expected Attainment Pathway model tracking progress from Years 7 through to Year 11, we would be able to closely monitor any dips in progress.
The same applies for Most Able. In fig 05 below, we are looking at the Y11 Spring assessments for our Upper/High ability students. We can see that 32.9% are achieving an A/A* compared with 17.1% nationally. Also, our average points are significantly higher than national average points.
Pupils with Special Educational Needs and/or disabilities.
It is important to be able to determine how SEND pupils are doing academically. Again, this can be done via Excel or within your MIS but it can also be filtered very easily within SISRA Analytics. In fig 06 below, we can see at a glance how students within different special educational needs are doing compared with National.
Fig 06 shows how our SEND pupils are doing in relation to the EBacc.
Fig 07 shows the same pupils in relation to Basic measures
What NOT to provide to an inspector
Finally, it is worth noting that on no occasion should you be asked to predict a Progress 8 score for your cohort of students.
In fact, RAISEOnline state within their FAQ that
‘it is not possible in advance to estimate what the actual Progress 8 scores will be as they are based on the national average results of the same cohort.’
They go onto say
‘trying to predict Progress 8 scores based on previous years Attainment8 estimates is likely to be time consuming and inaccurate and is not something that the Department wants to incentivise’
In March 2016 Charlotte Harling, our Principal Consultant, helped out at a school during their inspection. The school was previously judged as ‘Requires Improvement’. They are now judged ‘Outstanding’. A quote from their report says
‘procedures to monitor pupils’ progress are first class. Leaders accurately identify pupils who are not performing at their best and swiftly intervene to secure improvements’
During the inspection, Charlotte was asked what the school were predicting for 5A*-C(EM) for the current Year 10. Charlotte explained that it was not a measure that they were looking at and would not be able to give a figure for this. This answer was accepted by the Inspector.
She was also asked to predict a Progress 8 score for the Year 10, again she explained that this was not possible but she did give them a threshold figure for English and maths.
A confident approach
These are just a few things to consider when preparing for an Ofsted inspection. An Ofsted inspection should not be scary if you’re prepared. Of course nerves are natural but are those butterflies in your stomach really just adrenalin?
If you have any comments or have recently been through an Ofsted inspection and have anything that would be useful to share with other schools, we’d love to hear your thoughts.
Finally, if you’re expecting Ofsted any time soon, good luck!