After an inspection of a school, Ofsted published a report on the school on its website. In addition to written comments on a number of areas, schools were assessed on each area and overall on a 4-point scale: 1 Outstanding , 2 Good , 3 Satisfactory and 4 Inadequate.
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Schools rated Outstanding or Good might not be inspected again for five years, while schools judged less favourably were inspected more frequently, and might receive little or no notice of inspection visits. A framework for section 5 inspections of academies and maintained schools was introduced from January , and replaced with another new framework in September Public consultation was undertaken,  and Ofsted prepared for the new framework after piloting a series of inspections across the country. Among other changes, the new system relabelled the "Satisfactory" category as "Requires Improvement", with an expectation that schools should not remain at that level.
Sometimes a school is placed into special measures if it is judged as 'inadequate' Grade 4 in one or more areas and if the inspectors have decided it does not have the capacity to improve without additional help. Schools placed into special measures receive intensive support from local authorities, additional funding and resourcing, and frequent reappraisal from Ofsted until the school is no longer deemed to be failing. Furthermore, the senior managers and teaching staff can be dismissed and the governing body may be replaced by an appointed Interim Executive Board IEB.
Schools which are failing but where inspectors consider there is capacity to improve are given a Notice to Improve NtI. Ofsted, as of April , was issuing new guidance to inspectors which will include the following:. In December , Christine Gilbert revealed that Ofsted had been gullible: good ratings could be given, based purely on data submitted directly by local authority providers of care services, that could easily be concealing dangerously flawed practices.
This was considered a factor, by The Daily Telegraph , in overlooking alleged inadequacies in Haringey Council 's child care provision in the case of Baby P ,  a child murdered by his parents and their lodger. According to Ofsted, three children died in England and Wales from abuse every week between April and August Ofsted has been criticised as 'not fit for purpose' by the House of Commons Education Select Committee.
Other criticism has come from the Association of Teachers and Lecturers ATL which said "Ofsted is over-reliant on number crunching, using test data which are fundamentally unsound" and added that the organisation was "ripe for overhaul". Over a period of several years the Select Committee have questioned the Chief Inspector over its treatment of Summerhill School and what it has learnt from the Court Case and subsequent inspections. The school has campaigned for all schools to be similarly inspected, ensuring openness and accountability for the process.
In August , 18 of the 24 newly launched Free Schools were graded Good or Outstanding by Ofsted;  however, with over state schools being downgraded from an Outstanding classification  this year, the consistency of Ofsted grading is once again brought into question, leading to numerous 'How to get a Good Ofsted' guides  being created. A report by the think tank Policy Exchange indicated that many Ofsted inspectors lack the knowledge required to make fair judgements of lessons and that judgements are so unreliable, "you would be better off flipping a coin".
The Ofsted complaints procedure has also been heavily criticised for opacity and a strong bias in favour of the inspectors. Geoff Barton, after writing an article strongly critical of Ofsted's use of raw data rather than inspection reports to determine grades, noted that:. In an inspector revealed that inspection judgements can be arbitrarily over-ruled by senior figures, commenting on a case where a school had been downgraded:.
It turned out that Ofsted had made a brief visit to the school some time before the inspection and had come up with some sort of unreported provisional judgement. So all that evidence we had gathered meant nothing and essentially this team of experienced inspectors was not trusted to make a judgement. Barton concluded his article, 'the accounts above reveal an inspection system that appears in too many cases to be doing great damage. The Musical was launched in at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.
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New Ofsted Draft Inspection Handbook: Key Changes for Primary Schools | The National College
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Six things we've learnt from Ofsted's new draft inspection framework
In the grand scheme of things, it is preferable and welcome that Ofsted should encourage schools to focus on what actually makes a difference to pupil experiences, rather than incentivise schools to waste time interrogating unreliable tracking data, creating flightpaths or attempting to predict outcomes, as has been the case in recent years.
The devil, of course, will be in the detail.
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Test and exam performance remain just as important : Those who have watched the drip feed of information from Ofsted over recent months may be forgiven for thinking that published pupil performance data would figure much less in future inspections. The handbook gives nothing away as to how much weight will be given to them in forming an overall judgement. In a surprisingly large number of areas, the handbook is vague and open to interpretation. Pause on full implementation : Ofsted has bowed to pressure to give schools more time to respond to the new emphasis on curriculum, given that there will be very little time between finalising these new arrangements and their implementation, in September This is welcome, though also vague and will need more precise language around it, to avoid it becoming far too open to interpretation between different inspectors.
Near no-notice inspection : Ofsted is proposing that the lead inspector will arrive on site within a few hours of notification that the school is to be inspected. Following a deeply negative reaction when this was first mooted, the scope of activities to be covered on this first half-day has been dramatically reduced, to the point at which you must ask why a phone call would not suffice.
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