In this article series, we’ll be looking at some of the “Outcomes for pupils” in Ofsted Judgements, in order to see what Ofsted inspectors are concentrating on. Specifically, we’ll look at those judgements which overall were requires improvement.

In this article, we’ll be looking at comments regarding in year groups (as opposed to the end of a particular key stage) from the 50 judgements released in October 2018.

Tracking pupils’ progress

In addition to looking at the end of Key Stage outcomes, Ofsted inspectors also look at schools’ own progress trackers. Paragraph 188 of the Ofsted Inspection Handbook states:

Inspectors will gather evidence about the progress of current pupils through:

  • the school’s own information, taking account of the quality and rigour of the assessment on which it is based.

Ofsted has previously said that they have no view as to what the best progress tracker is for a school; instead, inspectors look at whether it is working for the school.

Leaders have introduced a new approach to tracking pupils’ progress. This is leading to a stronger focus on the progress that individual pupils make. Teachers are beginning to use this information to make sure that lessons match tasks to what pupils know and can do. This means that pupils currently in the school are starting to make better progress.

However, leaders are now tracking pupils’ progress more effectively to ensure that teachers know where pupils’ knowledge is still insecure.

They will then look at the progress to review results. Sometimes, this is generally positive:

Leaders’ strategic approach to ensure improved outcomes for pupils in Years 5 and 6 has been successful. Progress in other year groups is beginning to improve. 

Leaders’ assessment information and the work in pupils’ books show improvement in current pupils’ rates of progress.

More often for school with a “Requires Improvement” judgement, this reveals variable progress:

However, due to inconsistencies in the quality of teaching, progress is not yet consistently good.

Review of the school’s pupil progress records shows that pupils’ progress in reading and mathematics is variable across key stage 2.

There are periods where pupils’ progress over time, particularly in writing, is not good enough.

However, not all pupils gain the specific knowledge, understanding and skills that are expected for their age in these subjects. This is because leaders do not monitor pupils’ outcomes in subjects other than English and mathematics.

The school’s assessment information shows that current progress in reading, writing and mathematics is not consistently good across all year groups. Progress is weaker in Years 3 and 4. In all year groups, progress in reading lags behind that in other subjects.

Pupils’ books

In addition to using the school’s tracking system, Ofsted Inspectors will also look at pupils’ books. Paragraph 188 of the Ofsted Inspection Handbook states:

Inspectors will gather evidence about the progress of current pupils through: 

  • scrutiny of pupils’ acquisition of knowledge, understanding and skills over time as shown in their work, including that in their books

Additionally, various paragraphs of the Ofsted Inspection Handbook include:

Where performance information is limited due to small group size, inspectors should gather a wide range of other evidence to ensure the school is providing effectively for lower-attaining pupils, including reviewing pupils’ work, and talking to pupils and teachers.

Some inspectors’ comments say that the teachers’ assessments are reflected in the pupils’ books.

Work in pupils’ books accurately reflects teachers’ assessments.

Pupils’ books from last academic year show that the strategies recently introduced for teaching reading and mathematics are beginning to have a positive effect on pupils’ knowledge and understanding in some year groups.

But sometimes Ofsted’s inspectors say that there is or was a variance between the pupils’ books and teachers’ assessments.

Teachers’ assessment sometimes lacks accuracy and, therefore, planning for pupils’ learning is not consistently well matched to their needs. Consequently, in some year groups and in some subjects across the curriculum, pupils’ outcomes are not consistently good.

In the past, teachers’ assessments of pupils’ work have not been accurate. This has made it hard for the school to establish accurate baselines against which to measure pupils’ progress. However, teachers have received support and training to moderate their judgements with other schools. As a result, assessments are now more accurate.

The pupils’ books can show a good picture of progress

…there are early signs that pupils are now catching up, particularly in key stage 1. The work in pupils’ books shows some marked improvement in the quality of pupils’ learning over recent months.

Sometimes the pupils’ books reflect an inconsistency of attainment across subjects.

A detailed scrutiny of books shows that while standards are becoming more consistent, variance continues in the quality of work between classes and groups of pupils. Girls’ writing is typically better than that of boys.

Current pupils’ books show inconsistency in their progress over time. 

Work in pupils’ books and lesson observations during inspection demonstrate that more of the current pupils are working at standards appropriate for their age, particularly in reading and mathematics.

However, work in pupils’ books shows that the progress that pupils make over time varies in reading, writing and mathematics during key stage 2.

Work in books shows that some pupils, especially at key stage 2, are not developing into skilled writers because of large gaps in their knowledge. For example, weaknesses in their grammar and punctuation hold them back.

The work in pupils’ books shows that they learn a wide range of subjects. However, not all pupils gain the specific knowledge, understanding and skills that are expected for their age in these subjects. This is because leaders do not monitor pupils’ outcomes in subjects other than English and mathematics.

Pupils’ work from last year and school assessment information show that some pupils made good progress from their starting points in reading, writing and mathematics but that progress was uneven. In some year groups, pupils’ progress in writing and mathematics was weak and their attainment was also low. As a result, some pupils have started the current academic year well behind their peers.

Sometimes there are wider lessons from the analysis of pupils’ books:

Work in pupils’ books shows that by the time they reach the end of key stage 1, pupils are well prepared to start Year 3. Nonetheless, some pupils lose ground during key stage 2 because there are times when teachers do not plan activities that build sufficiently upon pupils’ prior learning. This is particularly evident in mathematics.