Further supplementary memorandum from
OFSTED (OFS 20)
10 September 2001
I have written to you separately to introduce
the consultation on the new inspection arrangements from 2003.
In the meantime, the current phase of inspections goes on and
we will keep these arrangements under review.
I am heartened by the many positive comments
about how much better inspection is now than it was the first
time schools were inspected. The vast majority of schools are
content with their inspections and welcome, in particular, the
stronger dialogue that now characterises inspection.
We are making a number of changes from September,
which I hope you will welcome. These include changes to increasingly
involve schools as partners in the inspection process, and to
reduce bureaucracy. The main changes are outlined below.
The registered inspector will provide you
with a copy of the pre-inspection commentary shortly before or
at the beginning of the inspection and will give you opportunity
to discuss the hypotheses in it.
The pre-inspection commentary draws on all the
evidence available before the inspection, including discussions
at the preliminary visit. It provides a focus for the inspection,
and includes hypotheses and issues that the inspection team will
follow up. Providing schools with a copy is intended to make the
inspection process more open and to further encourage dialogue
between the school and the inspection team. It will give you an
opportunity to consider evidence you wish to offer in response
to the hypotheses and issues.
Information requirements in Forms S1 and S2
Schools are no longer required to complete
Tables E1 and E2 about staffing, nor complete questions B17-19
(Secondary) or B16-18 (Special) about post-16, 17 or 18 destinations.
The intention here is to reduce bureaucracy.
Inspectors will need some of the information to carry out the
inspection, for example a staff list, and your registered inspector
will tell you what is needed. You will, however, be able to provide
it in whatever form it is available.
Internet versions of Forms S1 - S4
Versions of Forms S1 - S4 which can be completed
by schools in their usual word processor have been posted on the
This is to make completion of Forms S1 - S4
easier. We have had many comments (all critical!) about the current
dos-based software and the difficulties some schools have had
in printing these forms.
Where schools have difficulties in filling
vacant posts, a statement reflecting this will be included in
the report. It will also include a commentary where these have
a detrimental effect on quality or standards.
We are aware of difficulties that some schools
are experiencing, and the changes we are implementing are intended
to recognise this. Inspectors will need a little more information
than is currently included in Forms S1 and S2, including the number
of vacant posts at the time of the inspection, the number of vacancies
filled by staff on temporary contracts of one term or more and
less than a term, and the number of supply staff.
Contributors and barriers to school improvement
When evaluating school improvement, inspectors
will take account of how national and other initiatives have helped.
Conversely, they will evaluate and report on any barriers to improvement.
The intention here is to highlight the catalytic
effect of various initiatives. At the same time, I am aware that
headteachers are concerned about the weight and impact of bureaucratic
demands on schools. Inspectors will evaluate and report on these,
and take account of any barriers to efficient development that
might arise from external demands and factors such as staffing
Teaching quality percentages
The percentages of lessons judged to be very
good or better, satisfactory or better, and unsatisfactory or
worse will no longer be included in the summary report.
We recognise that when only a small number of
lessons is seen, the percentages are not necessarily helpful in
giving a fair picture of teaching in the school as a whole. Judgements
about teaching are based on more than the statistical data.
Reporting on subjects in secondary school reports
Each subject report will include an overall
judgement about the quality of provision, and a brief list of
the key strengths and areas for improvement.
This brings the reporting of subjects at Key
Stages 3 and 4 into line with the reporting of sixth form subjects
and of curriculum areas in colleges. The change is intended to
be helpful in identifying matters for school development, and
providing an overall view of different subjects.
Key Stage 3 Strategy
In pilot schools for the Key Stage 3 Strategy,
inspectors will assess the quality of what they see in the usual
way using the criteria in the framework.
Schools will use the frameworks for teaching
in ways that suit them. Inspectors will not be looking for adherence
to the frameworks or rigid use of any particular lesson structures.
They will assess the impact of teaching and planning, in whatever
form, as usual. Schools outside the pilots are taking their first
steps in implementing the strategy. Inspectors will recognise
this, and that schools will make their own decisions about how
the strategy can best be used in their circumstances.
Sixth form inspection
Greater attention will be given to the inspection
of sixth forms in schools.
For schools with sixth forms this will mean
additional inspection time. Schools with sixth forms that are
being inspected in the autumn term have had a leaflet explaining
how their inspections will change, and this will be more generally
published this term. The new arrangements bring school sixth form
and college inspections into line. Although for schools it will
mean more inspection, I hope schools will benefit from the focused
evaluation and reporting on a part of the school that has often
had limited coverage in reports.
I am keen to reduce the inspection burden on
schools, and some of the changes outlined above are intended specifically
with this in mind. I recognise that schools want to be at their
best for inspection but there are three things I do not want you
to require of your staff prior to inspection. Please do not:
have schemes of work re-written;
have school policies re-written;
ask staff to prepare lesson plans
specifically for the inspection. Inspectors will use teachers'
planning in whatever form it normally takes. OFSTED does not have
a preferred format for such plans.
Also, from September, inspectors will not expect
you to provide copies of the school's previous inspection report.
I hope you feel the changes are helpful, and
I welcome your comments on how inspections are going and how they
can be improved.
Mike Tomlinson, HMCI