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Will the DFE’s new Institute reflect what teachers need to learn?

Blog Editor, IOE Digital27 January 2021

klimkin / Pixabay

John White.

This month, the Department for Education (DFE) announced that a new Institute for Teaching will be set up in England ‘to provide teachers and school leaders with prestigious training and development throughout their career’. It ‘will become England’s flagship teacher training and development provider, showcasing exemplary development of the Government’s ambitious reforms.’

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said that the new Institute will equip all teachers to deliver an education combining ‘high standards of pupil behaviour and discipline with a broad knowledge-based’ curriculum. He added that the Institute, whose work will begin in September 2022 will add ‘diversity and innovation to the existing teacher development market.’

I don’t imagine that this is a belated response to remarks made by HMCI Amanda Spielman in her 2017 (more…)

A few words in the OFSTED framework could help boost the digital skills children need for learning outside of school

Blog Editor, IOE Digital11 November 2020

Sara Hawley.

While the pandemic continues and individual pupils, groups or classes stay home self-isolating, the DFE has made remote learning part of schools’ legal duty for now. OFSTED has suspended routine inspections but is carrying out interim visits (without grading schools) to understand the lay of the land.  Yesterday, Chief Inspector Amanda Spielman published a report detailing the skills many children had lost during months of absence from school and acknowledging that home learning remains ‘patchy’.

For those of us working in and around schools in England over the last decade, it comes as no surprise to read of the huge variation in online learning provision across the state sector now and during the spring lockdown. Funding and policy choices made over recent years have in many ways taken things backwards. The abolition of BECTA (British Educational Communications Technology Agency) in 2010 meant the end of a coherent national strategy for online learning resources and infrastructure.

Since then, schools have been left to their own devices, navigating a baffling range of commercial options, often relying on any expertise held by enthusiasts among their staff. Compounding the difficulty has been (more…)

What are ‘stuck’ schools and what sort of fresh thinking can help them move on?

Blog Editor, IOE Digital6 May 2020

Bernie Munoz, Melanie Ehren and Jo Hutchinson.

The government is making some assumptions about so-called ‘stuck’ or ‘intractable’ schools that need to be closely examined. One of these assumptions is that placing a small group of failing schools in special measures will cause them to improve in order to avoid job losses, bad reputation and school closure.

It is further assumed that multi-academy trusts will adopt schools with persistent difficulties and provide stronger leadership to resolve these – but it is also assumed that if failing schools don’t improve, they will ultimately disappear as a natural consequence of low enrolment and sanctions.

However, there is a group of schools in England that Ofsted has judged to be failing for more than a decade. Paradoxically, they have been unable to improve, nor have they disappeared. This would suggest that the competitive educational quasi-market falls short when trying to understand the complexities of the system.

We hope our current two year study, funded by the Nuffield Foundation will provide some (more…)

‘Stuck’ schools: are Ofsted judgements stopping them from getting out of the rut?

Blog Editor, IOE Digital21 January 2020

Bernie Munoz-Chereau, Melanie Ehren and Jo Hutchinson.

A few days ago Ofsted announced that they are seeking a ‘judgement-free approach’ to stuck schools. These schools have been consistently judged less than good for over a decade. 

Ofsted believes that these Grades 3 and 4 judgements (namely, ‘satisfactory’ or ‘requires improvement’ and ‘inadequate’) are preventing them from improving. 

The judgement unintentionally stigmatizes these schools and makes improvement even harder as the school becomes an unpopular place to teach in, a carousel of consultants try and fail to implement quick fixes, and parents move their children elsewhere. 

(more…)

Cultural capital and curriculum: will OFSTED’s new framework encourage better education in our schools?

Blog Editor, IOE Digital9 September 2019

Michael Young.

OFSTED’s decision to revise their Inspection Framework to give less emphasis to pupil outcomes and more to the curriculum and ‘the substance of education’ was largely welcomed by the teaching profession. However, implementing such a change was always bound to be both difficult and controversial. As Warwick Mansell points out in The Guardian this week the welcome was not universal, and some academics and teachers attacked the change as ‘elitist’.

The key paragraph in the new OFSTED Inspection Handbook which Mansell concentrates on states that:

(more…)

When it comes to Ofsted’s judgments about school inclusion, context is everything

Blog Editor, IOE Digital14 June 2019

 Rob Webster.

Last week, Schools Week reported on an academy in Dorset that had controversially retained its ‘outstanding’ grade despite Ofsted inspectors’ notes revealing that ‘dozens of pupils leave each year’.

The inspection was triggered by concerns over ‘exceptional levels of pupil movement’, but to be clear, the regulator concluded there was “no hidden agenda” and “no sense of any inappropriate movement”.

The social media firestorm that predictably followed reflected the uncertainty that surrounds a signature feature of the new inspection framework, which comes into effect (more…)

OFSTED’s worst practice – its four-grade scale – undermines the real advances in its new draft framework

Blog Editor, IOE Digital31 January 2019

Frank Coffield
Ofsted has just issued a draft inspection framework for consultation which puts the curriculum at its heart. This is a welcome return to what inspectors used to value, namely the curriculum, although some fundamental questions remain, as John White details in his recent blog.
I want to draw attention to something different: Ofsted’s most objectionable and most damaging practice – the four-point grading scale to which it appears wedded. This is an example of unintelligent accountability.
The danger to Ofsted is that all the advances in the draft framework will be set at naught if it persists with these grades, because (more…)

Ofsted has turned our attention back to what makes a good curriculum. We now need better answers

Blog Editor, IOE Digital23 January 2019

 John White.
Ofsted has begun consulting on a revised draft inspection framework.
The inspectorate wants to move away from an over-reliance on results and to focus on how these have been achieved – ‘whether they are the result of broad and rich learning, or gaming and cramming. ’The aim is to ‘‘rebalance inspection to make sure that young people are being taught the best of what has been thought and said’.
Ofsted’s focus on whether a school has a good curriculum is welcome. If taken seriously, it should lead us into deep and complex issues about what education should be about. But, bound as it is by current legislation, Ofsted has a very specific interpretation of this. Its references to knowledge and skills and nod to Matthew Arnold’s well-known dictum show its reliance on the current National Curriculum aims, introduced by then Education Secretary (more…)

Ofsted's use of Artificial Intelligence: how smart is it to automate risk assessments?

Blog Editor, IOE Digital9 February 2018

Melanie Ehren.
Ofsted has come under attack for its collaboration with the Behavioural Insights Team for using machine learning to identify failing schools. According to several sources (BBC and Matthew Reynolds), BIT has been trialling machine learning models that can crunch through publicly available data to help automate Ofsted’s decisions on whether a school is potentially performing inadequately. The algorithms use information on number of children on free school meals, how much teachers are paid, the number of teachers for each subject, and particular words and sentiments in reviews of schools submitted by parents on the Ofsted-run website Parent View.
As Ofsted’s head of risk assessment (Paul Moore) explains: (more…)

OFSTED: we need a brand new model, not just a re-spray

Blog Editor, IOE Digital7 February 2018

Frank Coffield
In September 2019 Ofsted will introduce a new Framework of Inspection and it has already begun to work on revising the current version. That timescale and the arrival of a new Chief Inspector offer the chance of change, but whether that change becomes merely cosmetic or genuinely radical will in part depend upon the amount of pressure we, the teaching profession, are prepared to apply.  The danger is that Ofsted will settle for a superficial respray to make it look fresh and up-to-date, but what we need is a model designed anew from first, educational principles – a recovery vehicle rather than a war chariot.
I want Ofsted, for instance, to abandon its grading scale which attaches a single label (“inadequate” or “outstanding”) to the new mega Further Education Colleges (with 40,000 students and 30+ departments). This is just one egregious example of the growing evidence that (more…)