Ofsted Myths

When schools ‘get the call’, often even the most pragmatic and sensible teachers often start questioning themselves and start wishing they had booked a school trip which fell on the inspection dates. Therefore, the DfE have released the following statement to dispel some of the myths surrounding Ofsted inspections to prevent teachers from doing unnecessary work in order to prepare for ‘The Big O’.

The purpose of this document is to confirm facts about the requirements of Ofsted and to dispel myths that can result in unnecessary workloads in schools. It should be read alongside the School inspection handbook.

It is intended to highlight specific practices that are not required by Ofsted. Inspectors must not advocate a particular method of planning, teaching or assessment. It is up to schools themselves to determine their practices and for leadership teams to justify these on their own merits rather than by reference to the inspection handbook.

1. Lesson planning

Ofsted does not require schools to provide individual lesson plans to inspectors. Equally, Ofsted does not require schools to provide previous lesson plans.

Ofsted does not specify how planning should be set out, the length of time it should take or the amount of detail it should contain. Inspectors are interested in the effectiveness of planning rather than the form it takes.

Ofsted does not expect tutor groups/form time to include literacy, numeracy or other learning sessions. Schools can use form time as they wish.

2. Self-evaluation

Ofsted does not require self-evaluation to be graded or provided in a specific format. Any assessment that is provided should be part of the school’s business processes and not generated solely for inspection purposes.

3. Grading of lessons

Ofsted does not award a grade for the quality of teaching or outcomes in the individual lessons visited. Inspectors do not grade individual lessons. Ofsted does not expect schools to use the Ofsted evaluation schedule to grade teaching or individual lessons.

4. Lesson observations

Ofsted does not require schools to undertake a specified amount of lesson observation.

Ofsted does not expect schools to provide specific details of the pay grade of individual teachers who are observed during inspection.

5. Pupils’ work

Ofsted does not expect to see a particular frequency or quantity of work in pupils’ books or folders. Ofsted recognises that the amount of work in books and folders will depend on the subject being studied and the age and ability of the pupils.

Ofsted recognises that marking and feedback to pupils, both written and oral, are important aspects of assessment. However, Ofsted does not expect to see any specific frequency, type or volume of marking and feedback; these are for the school to decide through its assessment policy. Marking and feedback should be consistent with that policy, which may cater for different subjects and different age groups of pupils in different ways, in order to be effective and efficient in promoting learning.

While inspectors will consider how written and oral feedback is used to promote learning, Ofsted does not expect to see any written record of oral feedback provided to pupils by teachers.

If it is necessary for inspectors to identify marking as an area for improvement for a school, they will pay careful attention to the way recommendations are written to ensure that these do not drive unnecessary workload for teachers.

6. Evidence for inspection

Ofsted does not expect schools to provide evidence for inspection beyond that set out in this inspection handbook.

Ofsted will take a range of evidence into account when making judgements, including published performance data, the school’s in-year performance information and work in pupils’ books and folders, including that held in electronic form. However, unnecessary or extensive collections of marked pupils’ work are not required for inspection.

Ofsted does not expect performance and pupil-tracking information to be presented in a particular format. Such information should be provided to inspectors in the format that the school would ordinarily use to monitor the progress of pupils in that school.

Ofsted does not require teachers to undertake additional work or to ask pupils to undertake work specifically for the inspection.

Ofsted will usually expect to see evidence of the monitoring of teaching and learning and its link to teachers’ performance management and the teachers’ standards, but this should be the information that the school uses routinely and not additional evidence generated for inspection.

Ofsted does not require schools to provide evidence for each teacher for each of the bulleted sub-headings in the teachers’ standards.

Ofsted does not expect to see photographic evidence of pupil’s work. Ofsted is very aware of teachers’ workload and inspectors are happy to speak to pupils during an inspection about what they have learned.

Ofsted does not require schools to predict their progress scores. It is impossible to predict progress as test results are compared nationally and this cannot be done until after the tests.

Ofsted does not require schools to hold onto books and other examples of pupils’ work for pupils who left school the previous year.

Inspectors are not required to routinely check personnel files, but may do so in specific cases as part of looking at schools’ procedures for checking the suitability of employees to work with children.

There is no requirement for multi-academy trusts to maintain single central records for all staff. Each academy school should maintain a single central record. Where the multi-academy trust employs staff who are not assigned to an individual academy, these employees must be recorded on the single central record for the multi-academy trust, along with all others employed by the multi-academy trust and trustees.

7. Statutory provisions

Ofsted will report on any failure to comply with statutory arrangements, including those relating to the workforce, where these form part of the inspection framework and evaluation schedule (Part 2 of the ‘School inspection handbook).

8. Leadership and governance

As many governors or trustees as possible are invited to meet inspectors during an inspection.

For academies, inspectors meet those directly responsible for management and governance, including the CEO/their delegate (or equivalent), the chair of the board of trustees and other trustees.

An inspector may talk to the chair of governors by telephone if s/he is unable to attend a face-to-face meeting with the inspector in school.

For academies, the headteacher and CEO/their delegate (or equivalent) are invited to observe the inspectors’ final team meeting.

All those responsible for governance need to know the outcome of the inspection as soon as possible. Individual governor representatives must keep the outcomes confidential until the school has received the final inspection report.