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.




2018 GCSE results  


This year, around 90 percent of GCSE results issued were for the reformed 9-1 GCSEs. Overall, results have remained stable in recent years and inspectors have been reminded that some year-on-year variation in results for individual schools and colleges is normal.


Early entry for English GCSEs


According to figures from the Joint Council for Qualifications (JCQ), in 2018, around 27,000 pupils aged 15 or under were entered for GCSE English literature, and 10,000 were entered for GCSE English language. The proportion of pupils entered early for English literature attaining a grade 4 or above was 10 percentage points below those entered at age 16 – pupils entered early were also five percentage points below for English language.

Ofsted’s school performance data team is conducting investigations to identify where large cohorts of pupils were entered for an English qualification early.

Inspectors have been told to discuss any concerns about a school’s qualification entries with school leaders during the inspection.


Use of data during inspections


Inspectors have been reminded to:

  • Use the inspection data summary report (IDSR) to identify lines of enquiry – the IDSR will highlight significant data patterns.
  • Call the analyst support helpdesk if there is substantial variability in a school’s GCSE results; this is so Ofsted’s analysts can help inspectors to interpret the data. Inspectors should also call the helpdesk if a school’s interpretation of their data is different to the inspector’s.
  • Avoid focussing too much on detailed data, such as for pupil groups, and move beyond the data quickly to assess how well the curriculum is being taught.


Accountability measures


Extremely negative pupil progress scores


The DfE has introduced a limit on how negative a pupil’s individual progress score can be when calculating the average for the school as a whole – the limit will apply to the school average for Progress 8 and for KS2 progress measures.

You can read more about how the limit works for primary accountability measures in our 3-Minute Read. The DfE hasn’t released full details about the secondary accountability measures yet, but we will keep you informed when they do.  

Schools will be able to see their adjusted and unadjusted scores as part of the schools checking exercise in September 2018. When the 2018 data is published in the school performance tables, the IDSR will indicate where there is a large difference between the adjusted and unadjusted scores.


Floor standards and coasting definition


There will be a consultation in Autumn 2018 on a new way to identify schools that might benefit from an offer of support – this would be in place from September 2019.

Until this is implemented, the existing floor and coasting standards will remain in place. Where a school is below the floor or coasting standards, but is not judged as ‘inadequate’, the regional school commissioner (RSC) will not issue an academy order or a warning notice. Instead, the floor and coasting standards will be calculated in 2018 solely for the DfE to identify schools that might benefit from support.

Inspectors have been told that they must no longer report whether a school meets the floor standards or coasting definition – the definitions have been removed from the 2016/2017 IDSRs and the imminent IDSRs for 2017/2018. Inspectors will continue to take account of the progress of recent cohorts when evaluating the progress of pupils currently in a school.




Movement between Year 10 and Year 11


Figures, highlighted by Ofsted in a June 2018 blog, showed that in 2016 and 2017 over 19,000 pupils didn’t progress from Year 10 to Year 11 in the same state-funded school, and that around half didn’t reappear in a different state-funded school. Inspectors have been reminded that the IDSR will show where there are significant levels of pupil movement between Year 10 and 11.

Inspectors must discuss any off-rolling concerns with school leaders during an inspection. This information should inform the evaluation of evidence for the effectiveness of leadership and management and outcomes for pupils.


Guidance offered to inspectors


Ofsted has its own internal definition of off-rolling – there is no legal definition. In line with Ofsted’s definition, off-rolling is the practice of removing a pupil from the school roll without a formal, permanent exclusion, or by encouraging a parent to remove their child from the school roll when the removal is primarily in the interests of the school rather than in the best interests of the pupil.

It is important that inspectors are able to distinguish between lawful and unlawful off-rolling:

  • A school can lawfully take a pupil off roll where they have removed the pupil in line with regulations and/or statutory guidance, e.g. where a pupil moves house and no longer attends the school.
  • Unlawful off-rolling is where a school removes a pupil from their roll for reasons, or in a way, not permitted by regulations and/or statutory guidance, e.g. where a pupil has been unlawfully excluded.

Inspectors have been provided with the following key points to consider:

  • They should use Ofsted’s internal definition of off-rolling
  • Off-rolling is not always unlawful
  • Inspectors’ judgements and reports should highlight practices where pupils are taken off the roll in the interests of the school, not the pupils – these will be reported as off-rolling
  • Inspectors should be careful during an inspection to not use inaccurate language about the unlawfulness of off-rolling.


Inspecting academies that are part of an MAT


The importance of inspectors having knowledge of MAT governance has been highlighted in the update. Guidance has been provided to inspectors within the update regarding MAT governance – you can find out about different models of governance in our dedicated topic.

When inspecting academies that are part of an MAT, inspectors have been instructed to:

  • Ensure they understand the academy’s governance arrangements and accountability mechanisms, so they can evaluate their effectiveness.
  • Not talk or act in a way that could be interpreted as favouring a particular MAT structure or approach.
  • Check whether the MAT the academy is a part of has been reviewed under existing arrangements for MATs.
  • Clarify the academy’s governance arrangements during the notification call with school leaders.
  • Clarify the level of responsibility delegated to local governance at the start of an inspection.

The lead inspector of an inspection should ensure that:

  • School leaders understand how representatives from the MAT should be invited to participate in team meetings and attend the final feedback meeting at the end of an inspection.
  • Where MAT representatives take part in inspection activities, the purpose and expectations of these activities are clear.
  • Involvement from the MAT is proportionate, i.e. it is integral to evidence gathering about the school’s effectiveness and focussed on the MAT’s impact on the quality of education at the academy.
  • Inspectors’ interactions with MAT representatives should focus on the impact in the individual academy, not the general performance of the MAT.


In-school cadets


The government’s cadet expansion programme (CEP) establishes cadet units in schools to give pupils the chance to learn new skills, such as leadership and self-reliance.

Inspectors are not expected to reference an in-school cadet movement in their reports; however, where schools present evidence about pupils’ involvement in this programme, it would be appropriate for inspectors to comment on this.


Ofsted’s reports website


Ofsted’s new reports website has been running for a number of months, alongside the existing reports site – Ofsted is planning to turn off the old reports site on Tuesday 2 October 2018. As part of this process, email alerts from the old site about reports have been stopped. If you want to continue to receive alerts, you will need to re-subscribe on the new site – visit the new report website to do this.




Ofsted (2018) ‘School inspection update: special edition’