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Ofsted chief says she understands anxiety over new inspection framework

Ofsted chief inspector Amanda Spielman spoke at the International Festival of Learning at West Suffolk College in Bury St Edmunds Picture: ARCHANT

Ofsted chief inspector Amanda Spielman spoke at the International Festival of Learning at West Suffolk College in Bury St Edmunds Picture: ARCHANT

Archant

The head of Ofsted said she understands there will be anxiety for teaching staff ahead of new inspection framework in September but insists the model has been rigorously tested.

Amanda Spielman, Ofsted chief inspector, is interviewed by Geoff Barton (right), former headteacher at King Edward VI School in Bury St Edmunds at last year's event Picture: DANNY HEWITTAmanda Spielman, Ofsted chief inspector, is interviewed by Geoff Barton (right), former headteacher at King Edward VI School in Bury St Edmunds at last year's event Picture: DANNY HEWITT

Speaking to this newspaper at the International Festival of Learning held at West Suffolk College in Bury St Edmunds on Friday, the education watchdog's chief inspector Amanda Spielman said around 250 pilots had taken place to test the new framework.

The new inspection model puts a schools' curriculum at the heart of the inspection process and inspectors have undergone extra training.

MORE: How do you judge whether a school is good or not?

"We did a very thorough consultation and on the core proposals around shifting to this quality of education model, I think people were roughly five to one in favour of it and that was across schools and colleges and parents," she said.

"It was very clear that this was a direction that the vast majority of people want us to go. But of course when you do shift something like this and people are getting their head around having a slightly different inspection than the one that they've been geared up to, some people do get a bit anxious and nervous.

"But we've done a load of pilots - 250 or so - through this year to really test the new model to see how it works and feels for people at the receiving end and for the inspectors doing it.

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"In general, it's been extremely positive but we've been making sure we build in the learning from that and tweak to get it as best we can.

"We've done a tonne of inspector training and we've been doing a lot of communicating.

"We're trying to be really upfront and honest and make sure it doesn't look like there are any secrets or anything being held back. That what you see is what you get."

MORE: Two 'outstanding' schools see plummeting Ofsted ratings amid huge gap in visits

Mrs Spielman added that she has been "very clear" that Ofsted would like to remove legislation issued by Parliament which gives 'outstanding' rated schools a greater degree of exemption.

In March, two Suffolk schools saw Ofsted grades fall dramatically - more than six years after they were last visited.

"I've been very clear that the outstanding exemption was one of those pieces of policy that I can understand why it was put in place back in 2011 but it's left a lot of schools, parents and children in not a great place," she said.

"Among parents and schools themselves, I don't think there are very many people who now see it as a good idea so I'm hoping in the not too distant future that we might see that change.

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