Marginal Gains

Back in 2012, at the heart of London Olympics, Sir Dave Brailsford repeatedly told people of his belief in the marginal gains principle. Speaking to the BBC, he said “The whole principle came from the idea that if you broke down everything you could think of, that goes into riding a bike, and then improved it by 1%, you will get a significant increase when you put them all together.  There’s fitness and conditioning, of course, but there are other things that might seem on the periphery, like sleeping in the right position, having the same pillow when you are away and training in different places. They’re tiny things but if you clump them together it makes a big difference.” Brailsford believed that if it were possible to make a 1% improvement in a whole host of areas, the cumulative gains would end up being hugely significant. This principle has guided and driven the cycling team to great heights and Brailsford’s...
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Ofsted Inspection Judgements and IDACI

On 14 January 2020 Ofsted released data regarding its latest judgements as of 31 December 2019. Now that 4 months have passed since the introduction of the new Ofsted Inspection Framework, there are sufficient schools to do a meaningful analysis of trends under this new framework. There is a correlation between deprivation and attainment, but is there one between deprivation and Ofsted's judgements, and has it changed from previous years? This article will use the IDACI measure as a measurement of deprivation. IDACI is the official Income Deprivation Affecting Children Index, which measures the proportion of children aged 0-15 who live in income deprived households in each area. The Ofsted data includes this data by dividing the country into 5 quintiles, going from least deprived to most deprived. This article will also largely consider Ofsted's Full Inspections only - more details are at the bottom of this article. This article has considered those inspections which resulted in an Overall Effectiveness judgement of Outstanding, Good,...
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Has Ofsted really gone off School Data?

The new Ofsted framework states that inspections will not examine any internal school data. But, in practice, what does this mean for schools? Feedback from Staff who have gone through the new framework stated that conversations were not data-centred but did assume you had a good working knowledge of the external data for your school. Data was discussed as an informer to the team’s approach, not as the sword of Damocles it has been. Context was investigated in thorough detail, giving us a chance to tell our story.DAN MORROW - CEO, Woodland Academies Trust However, when you read on, you see that the external data does inform what the deep dives look to see... Instead, the deep dives commenced with immediate observations of staff through learning walks (all accompanied by phase/subject leads) and through hearing children read: the year one children who had not reached GLD, the year twos who had not secured the phonics-screening check, and the year threes not...
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Ofsted Curriculum: Intent and Implementation

The new Ofsted Inspection Framework speaks a lot about Curriculum. Whilst the new directed focus has been welcomed, there is a lot of misunderstanding about what this means in practice. Schools are buying in help from outside sources against Ofsted Advice and Ofsted are constantly claiming there is no "Ofsted curriculum". So what will inspectors be looking for in your school curriculum from September 2019 onwards? What do they mean by a good or outstanding "quality of education"? In this article, we hope to help answer these questions by looking at Amanda Spielman's recent speech, the results of the Ofsted research project and the Ofsted School inspection Handbook. Amanda Spielman In a recent speech (10th July) at the Victoria and Albert Museum, Amanda Spielman was discussing the Ofsted research into Curriculum and what this means moving forward. The quality of education judgement does consider how well pupils are doing in national assessments and qualifications. But this should be the reflection of what children...
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Ofsted’s concerns regarding Curriculum Design

In our previous article, we had a look at Ofsted indicators regarding strong/weak Curriculum Design. In this article, we'll have a look at some of Ofsted's concerns. Curriculum Design What is curriculum? Amanda Spielman, Chief Inspector of Ofsted, has said: The curriculum really is the most important thing to think about as educators. As I said earlier, it’s the ‘what’. The very essence of what we want children to learn. It’s how we prepare them, as best we can, for what they might face next. And to leave children unprepared is, frankly, a dereliction of duty, I’m sure you’d agree. ...Sequencing does have a part to play here. ... So a degree of signposting, of showing children the way, is needed. It’s not enough to simply put everything out there and hope that something sticks.This isn’t about having some beautiful tick list of what a child should do, and when. If a child is having difficulty with something, it’s about stepping in to...
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Ofsted’s assessment of Curriculum

In previous articles, we took a look at what Ofsted's inspections under the new Inspection Framework will look like from September 2019, and how they may assess Work Scrutinies and Lesson Visits. In this article, we will look at how Ofsted may assess Curriculum design, based on the results of a research project. However, this information is only provisional, and may be different when the inspections start in September 2019. However, this may be useful in working on Ofsted's general approach. Assessment of Curriculum The 25 indicators used in the research model will no doubt be narrowed down by the first inspections in September 2019. They revolved around: Intent Rationale, Ambition, Concepts, Implementation Subject leadership, Subject knowledge, Equitable delivery, Planning the progression model, Breadth and depth, and Assessment. Of the 25 quality indicators, Ofsted's research has found that some of them were either more highly correlated with each other in models or were considered by Inspectors are more essential. These are: Intent There is a clear and coherent rationale for the curriculum design. The curriculum is at least as...
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Ofsted’s Deep Dives from September 2019 onwards

In our previous article, we took a look at what Ofsted's inspections under the new Inspection Framework will look like from September 2019. In this article, we will look at our summary of Ofsted's research about the "Deep Dives" to see what Ofsted may be looking for. It should be noted that: The Deep Dives are principally to gather evidence in relation to "quality of education", and the lesson visits can also gather evidence in relation to "behaviour and attitudes".These lists should not be used as a "box-ticking" exercise. For example, Ofsted does not want to see "Ofsted lessons".This is not a definitive list, and the final version may vary from the below (Ofsted describes them as "illustrative"). However, this should show the direction of travel that Ofsted is going. Lesson Visits/Observations For its research, Ofsted created a set of 18 indicators, which were grouped into three main themes: Curriculum,Teaching, andBehaviour. It should be noted that "Teaching" is used rather than "Learning", as research shows that it...
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Ofsted Inspections – Outstanding schools – Work in books

This series of articles examines Ofsted Inspectors' comments, as published in their Inspection Reports, in relation to "Outstanding" schools. In this article, we will have a look at work in pupils' books. Work in Books In the 2018 Ofsted School inspection handbook, which was the current one at the time of these inspections, Ofsted said that (my emphasis added): 188. Inspectors will gather evidence about the progress of current pupils through: • observations in lessons • discussions with pupils about their understanding of things they have been learning about • scrutiny of pupils’ acquisition of knowledge, understanding and skills over time as shown in their work, including that in their books • the school’s own information, taking account of the quality and rigour of the assessment on which it is based. However, in the draft 2019 handbook, Ofsted are proposing to essentially remove the last bullet point. They say: 178. While they will consider the school’s use of assessment (see paras...
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Ofsted Inspections – Outstanding Schools – Most Able pupils

In this series of articles, we are looking at Ofsted inspectors' comments on schools which they have judged to be outstanding. In this article, we'll have a look at their comments regarding the "most able" pupils (typically pupils which a high Prior Attainment). The attainment and progress of most able pupils It is not surprising that in these schools the most able pupils are working above age-related expectations. However, it seems that these pupils exceed even the high attainment shown nationally for high prior attainers: Teachers also ensure that the most able are regularly challenged to reach and exceed high targets. The most able pupils made outstanding progress in reading, writing and mathematics.The most able pupils in the school attain particularly well compared with similar pupils nationally. It should be noted that, under the KS2 Progress calculation methodology, there is a lower cap on how much progress can be measured for high prior attainers compared to others. For example, a Level 3...
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Ofsted inspections – Outstanding schools – Early years provision

In this series of articles, we are looking at Ofsted inspector's comments regarding Outstanding schools. In this article, we will be looking at their comments in relation to Early Years Provision. Ofsted comments about the dedication of the staff: Leaders, teachers and teaching assistants in the early years are extremely dedicated to ensuring that children get the best start.Leadership is highly effective, with a strong emphasis on providing care and nurture as well as challenge and ambition.The high quality of phonics teaching contributes to this success. and their ambition for the children: They plan activities which consistently provide the right level of difficulty for all ability groups.Leaders have ensured that the early years curriculum is interesting, engaging, broad and balanced. Children develop curiosity and want to find out more. Most activities have a clear purpose behind them and build upon what the children have previously learned to do. Two schools which were judged "Outstanding" overall were only "Good" for Early Years: However, questioning is...
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