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Date: June 12, 2023

Understanding Ofsted Updates: Navigating Changes to the Inspection Process

Ofsted has recently announced a series of reforms aimed at reducing pressures on teachers and school leaders during school inspections. According to Ofsted, these changes have been implemented in response to feedback from teachers and school leaders and are designed to maintain the rigor and accuracy of inspections while alleviating stress for those involved.

As a trusted resource for educators, Early Excellence provides comprehensive guidance to help you understand and navigate the recent series of reforms announced by Ofsted through this detailed blog overview:

Consultation on the Complaints Process

To address concerns and improve the efficiency of the complaints system, Ofsted has initiated a formal consultation process. The aim is to facilitate quicker resolutions by creating dialogue and transparency between Ofsted and schools. Schools will now also be able to contact Ofsted immediately following an inspection if they are unhappy with the process or outcome of the inspection.

Clarity around Confidentiality Policies

Ofsted will provide clarity on confidentiality policies to reduce unnecessary burden on Headteachers. Headteachers will be explicitly permitted to share provisional inspection outcomes privately at their discretion, bearing in mind that “outcomes are provisional until the report is finalised”. Furthermore, Ofsted reports will focus on areas for improvement for “the school” rather than naming individuals, reducing public scrutiny of individual staff, including headteachers.

Ofsted have also confirmed that they will not be changing the one-word rating system despite the sector’s call for change. Ofsted have said “We believe that one-word ratings are the clearest way to give parents confidence in choosing the right school for their child.”

Changes to Safeguarding

There have also been significant changes to how Ofsted intends to inspect safeguarding. Previously, an “Inadequate” rating in safeguarding could result in an overall “Inadequate” rating for a school, even if it performed well in other areas. However, Ofsted now plans to conduct follow-up monitoring visits within three months for schools that fail solely due to safeguarding issues. Successful resolution of these concerns may lead to an improved overall grade. Ofsted have also said that clearer safeguarding requirements will be provided in the inspection handbook to enhance understanding for all.

Enhanced Support for Schools between Inspections

Ofsted recognises the need to provide ongoing support for schools between inspections. While schools will still receive one day’s notice, they will now have more information about the likely year of their next inspection. This change is particularly beneficial for schools that have been exempt from inspection for an extended period.

These reforms are being implemented gradually, with some changes already in effect or in the process of implementation. Full implementation is expected by September 2023. Remember to keep an eye out for potential updates to the Education Inspection Framework, School Inspection Handbook and the Early Years Inspection Handbook for Ofsted Registered Provision for Autumn 2023.

Following these changes, the Department for Education have also announced that they will be providing extra funding to offer wellbeing support for school teachers and leaders through its Education Wellbeing Charter.

Confidential support can be accessed through the Education Support charity (https://www.educationsupport.org.uk/get-help/help-for-you/helpline/).