Recently, Ofsted published their latest 5 year strategy and as we know, when Ofsted says, “Jump,” the Education Sector tends to say, “How high?” Since its inception, 30 years ago, the organisation has evolved and changed, along with their inspection frameworks. As the Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills shifts focus, practices within schools change also. No doubt that the new strategy for 2022 to 2027 will cause practices within schools and care homes to alter too.
Throughout the 2022-27 strategy, the 4 Ofsted Values reoccur time and time again and these can be seen as the guiding principles which underpin the wider strategy.
- Children and Learners First
- Accountable and Transparent
Here are 8 things you need to know about the new Ofsted Strategy
1. Inspections that raise standards
It will come as no surprise that schools operate to a ‘Standards Agenda’ and Ofsted are intent on seeing these rise. The organisation views itself as ‘a force for improvement’. Inspections and reports will seek to support school and college leaders understanding how their settings can improve. Professional dialogue between leaders and inspectors plays a key role here. Because of the need to collect more evidence and for the time these discussions will take, the number of longer inspections will increase.
2. Right-touch regulation
This element of the Ofsted Strategy is targeted primarily on social care and settings where leavers are going on to live independently once they have left. Settings looking to establish care provision will have clear expectations to adhere to from registration, which should require them to face less monitoring or intervention later. The work of the Independent Care Review will guide the inspections of social care. Care settings, where care leavers go on to live independently, will face new regulations and registration processes as of 2023.
3. Making the most of our insights
The intention here is that Ofsted use the data they produce to share across the wider sector to support decision-makers and practitioners. In the future, they are seeking to publish ‘State of the Nation’ reports on the teaching of individual subjects. For these, evidence from inspections and wider literature will be utilised. It is worth noting here that these reports are likely to inform and direct what is deemed to be ‘model practice’. We can expect to see numerous publications from Ofsted over the next few years, where they share their research findings. To what extent they expect schools to use these insights is yet unclear.
4. The best start in life
The importance of early years practice cannot be overstated, and Ofsted are giving it credence within the strategy. There will be a focus on children’s physical, social and wider development in the early years. To develop their understanding of early years education, Ofsted will collect and collate research and insights. Data collected from this process will be used to make informed decisions and drive practice forward. Specialist training for early years inspectors will be developed, so there is a better understanding of what high-quality early years learning looks like.
5. Keeping children safe
The strategy acknowledges that there is growing complexity with regards to safeguarding. Ofsted are in a unique position to identify systemic safeguarding issues and they are seeking to highlight these using data from their inspections and insights program. The big change here is the implementation of a new joint targeted area inspection (JTAI). These will be used to inspect local safeguarding partnerships. Ofsted will also seek to work with wider agencies, for example the National Police Chiefs’ Council, to improve the sharing of information and data. This should provide a more ‘joined up thinking’.
6. Keeping pace with sector changes
Ofsted needs to reflect the changes occurring within the sector and the growing number of MATs will require more MAT summary evaluations (MATSEs). Through this, accountability will rest with trust decision makers and C-Level leaders will be held to greater account. A new special educational needs inspection framework will be developed as a response to the government’s SEND review. SENDCOs will need to be aware of this.
7. Accessible and engaged
Ofsted want to ensure that their work is ‘simple for everyone to understand.’ The aim of this is for parents, carers and wider stakeholders to be able to access reports and findings with ease. Ofsted with seek new means to reach a wider audience- could we a see an Ofsted Tik-Tok?
8. A skilled workforce
With increased inspections and of a more varied nature, Ofsted will seek to develop a new workforce strategy. This will allow them to inspect a more diverse educational landscape with inspectors who have specialisms.
From the outside, this new Ofsted Strategy acknowledges the changing educational landscape and the near proliferation of multi-academy trusts, this will be addressed via MATSEs. In order to tackle changing safeguarding needs, Ofsted will work with wider agencies. This should support practitioners to ‘join the dots’ when seeking to keep all children safe, particularly those in care. Early years settings will experience renewed scrutiny, as will childminding and wrap-around care providers.
However, the largest take-way from the document is that Ofsted will seek to ensure their research data is published and accessible for use. They will expect schools and colleges to use this data to support, guide and inform their practice. It is here we are likely to see Ofsted influence what is happening in schools, colleges and care providers.
By Alex Wallace, Content Producer, The Schools & Academies
Alex has over ten years classroom experience of teaching primary education, a masters in 'Education Practice' and is currently reading for his second masters in 'Leadership in Education.