While Ofsted’s ‘School inspection update’ documents are primarily for the use of inspectors, they offer a useful insight into what areas Ofsted is focussing on, how inspectors are told to look at these areas, and the implications for schools.
This article outlines what has been highlighted to inspectors in the update, ensuring you are up-to-date with the latest on how Ofsted is conducting inspections.
Segregation by sex
The November edition of the update focusses specifically on segregation by sex and what inspectors will be looking at during inspections.
It is likely to be unlawful for schools to segregate pupils on the basis of any protected characteristics, including sex, unless permitted by the Equality Act 2010 for the purposes of:
- Positive action to alleviate a disadvantage associated with a certain characteristic, e.g. teaching sex education to single-sex classes because girls and boys may have different needs in this context.
- Competitive sport, games or other competitive activities in which physical strength, stamina or physique are significant factors in determining success or failure, e.g. schools may be permitted to have an all-boys football team, but would still have to allow girls equal opportunities to participate in comparable sporting activities.
Ofsted has outlined how they will look at cases of segregation by sex. As of September 2018, the following measures apply:
- Any school unlawfully segregating pupils by sex should have this addressed in their inspection report.
- A school’s leadership and management can no longer be judged as ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’ if it is unlawfully separating pupils. If the school has genuine imminent plans to reintegrate pupils, it may be appropriate to give the ‘requires improvement’ grade; however, in other cases, schools will be judged ‘inadequate’ in leadership and management.
In June 2018, the DfE published guidance on what schools must consider when separating pupils by gender – our article breaks down the DfE’s expectations and goes into further detail about what is considered lawful and unlawful practice.
Launch of electronic evidence gathering (EEG)
Ofsted is launching a new, digital way of gathering inspection evidence. The new EEG tool will allow inspectors to collect evidence electronically, straight onto an electronic device during inspections.
Benefits of introducing EEG include being able to collate inspection evidence in an easier way, making it easier to access this information.
Ofsted doesn’t expect schools to notice any difference to the inspection experience when the EEG is launched. Schools that took part in a pilot of the tool reported that recording electronically didn’t hinder discussions with school leaders, staff or pupils.
As of November 2018, inspectors will use EEG on an increasing number of inspections – it is expected that the tool will be used in all inspections from Summer 2019. To support the introduction of EEG, inspectors will need to request access to schools’ Wi-Fi during inspections, where possible.
Read more about EEG here.
Summer 2019 GCSEs
The 2018 GCSE results marked the first time the reformed 9 to 1 GCSE grades were awarded – this was highlighted in Ofsted’s previous inspection update.
The Chief Regulator at Ofqual, Sally Collier, wrote to all the headteachers and exam staff on 9 October 2018, highlighting ways of sharing feedback and suggestions, information on the Summer 2019 exam series, links to an exam officer’s blog, and the results of Ofqual’s interactive results data for GCSEs and A-levels. Read the full letter here.
Inspectors have been provided with the following safeguarding reminders:
- Be familiar with ‘Keeping children safe in education’ and ‘Working Together to Safeguard Children’.
- Be very clear about the standards schools are required to maintain and do not expect to see schools taking actions beyond these standards, e.g. by routinely checking the DBS status of existing staff.
- Make sure all potential information about safeguarding concerns and a school’s safeguarding arrangements are properly reviewed – this includes looking at pupil and parent questionnaires.
Schools causing concern
The key changes to the DfE’s ‘Schools causing concern’ guidance have been highlighted to inspectors, including the amendments made to the interventions of schools that meet the coasting definition or fall below the floor standards, but who have not been judged inadequate by Ofsted.
Read more about the changes to the guidance in our Up-to-speed on: Changes to Interventions of Schools Causing Concern article.
Ofsted (2018) ‘School inspection update’