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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Marginal Gains – Significant Increase

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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What makes a Good Question Level Analysis?

Over the last few years, Primary School Heads and teachers have been offered many different versions of Question Level Analysis to help with curriculum planning and future SATs preparation. QLA really is a useful tool. It helps teachers better prepare pupils and to refine the curriculum to secure those marginal gains. By looking at how your pupils performed, you can see exactly where you will want to make changes for next year. . What to look for in a good Question Level Analysis? Here are our TOP 10 Questions to Ask... . 1) Do you have to search in many places or is it delivered in one go? Remember the aim of this analysis is to save you time as a head/teacher so you are not searching through lots of data to find the answer. You need something that does all that for you. . 2) Does the analysis look at Individual Questions or just general topics?  Most Question Analysis actually only gives you the heads up around different topics but what if,...
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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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Ofsted Inspections – Outstanding Schools – Phonics

In this series of articles, we are looking at Ofsted inspectors' comments made when inspecting "outstanding" schools. In this article, we'll see what those comments were regarding phonics. Comparison with the National Average As might be expected for outstanding schools, the percentage of pupils who have passed the Year 1 phonics is above the national average. And it generally is not a one-off. Attainment in the phonics screening check is consistently above national expectations. The proportion of pupils achieving the expected standard in the Year 1 phonics screening check has been consistently above the national average for the last three years. Inspectors also look at those pupils who don't pass in Year 1. Nearly all of them (but not necessarily 100%) pass by the end of Year 2. Most of the very small number of pupils not achieving the standard by the end of Year 1 go on to meet it by the end of Year 2. By the end of Year 2, almost...
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Ofsted Inspections – Outstanding Schools – Attainment

In previous articles, we had a look at Ofsted inspector's comments relating to "requires improvement" and "good schools". In this new series of articles, we'll look at 42 primary-phase schools which Ofsted has deemed to be "outstanding". In this article, we'll have a look at attainment. Outcomes exceeding National Standards Perhaps unsurprising for "outstanding" schools, school's attainment is above average: The proportion of current pupils achieving higher standards in reading and mathematics in Year 6 is well above the most recent national averages...By the end of key stage 1, pupils attain standards that are consistently above those of other pupils nationally in reading, writing, mathematics and science.Pupils' excellent personal skills, as well as their academic achievements, mean that they are exceptionally well prepared for the next stage of their education. In 2018, 98% of Year 6 pupils attained the expected standard in reading, writing and mathematics. Ofsted's inspectors sometimes comment on why this is: ... because of the high expectations of staff and very effective...
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Ofsted Inspections – Good Schools – Progress

This series of articles examines the comments of Ofsted Inspectors from 80 full inspections of schools which were deemed to be "good". Previous articles have looked at Ofsted's comments regarding attainment at KS2. This article looks at progress. Whilst inspectors have advanced knowledge of the school's progress at the end of Key Stage 2, as calculated by the DfE, and the 5 levels (e.g. "below average", "well above average") which are displayed on the DfE's website, this headline measure was often not explicitly commented on by inspectors. When it was, the measures showed the school to be broadly in line with national averages: Progress in writing across key stage 2 has improved steadily since the last inspection and is now broadly average.As a result, pupils’ progress in mathematics improved from well below average to average...Progress has also improved during this time and is in line with other schools nationally. Pupils’ progress from the end of key stage 1 to the end of...
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Ofsted inspections – Good schools – Other subjects

This series of articles analyses Ofsted inspectors' comments in their judgements about "good" schools. Other articles have focused on attainment and progress in Reading, Writing, Maths and Phonics. Click here to view the full series This article has a look at Ofsted inspectors' comments for "Outcomes for pupils" for other subjects. GPS (English Grammar, Punctuation and Spelling) Ofsted's inspectors commented on English Grammar, Punctuation and Spelling ("GPS" - also known as "EPGS" or "SPaG") in around a third of these reports. Please note - to improve readability, we have changed the phrase "grammar, punctuation and spelling" in the following quotes to GPS. Around half of these reports commented on the attainment level at the end of Key Stage 2, some positively: Pupils’ attainment at the end of key stage 2 in reading, writing and GPS has remained above the national average figures for the past three years....the proportion achieving and exceeding the expected standard in GPS was exceptionally high in 2018.Provisional results indicate that the...
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