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 at the expected standard in reading last year.
This proves that a good and through understanding of your external data is essential. Notice how the inspectors did focus in on specific areas for each different year group.
Data informs your school improvement planning, your SEF and perhaps, most important of all in this new EIF era, your curriculum…
Other children were asked to recall and describe their learning in the previous year, providing evidence about progression and sequencing. Next, subject leaders (not SLT) were interviewed about the philosophy and decision-making around sequencing of the curriculum.
Feedback from other schools who have been inspected under the new framework show this is the case.
There is no direct “DATA” chat – a true and welcome move away from inspections in the past.
However, the 90 minute phone call on the day before to the headteacher can shape where the inspection goes.
This is where three clear aspects are discussed…
- The school’s context, and progress since the previous inspection
- The headteacher’s assessment of the school’s current strength and weaknesses
- Specific areas of the school that should be the subject of the inspection focus.
“I would advise heads to prepare what you want to get across about your school. When the inspector arrived, she summarised what she thought I had said but added that ‘she didn’t believe a word I had said without seeing the evidence’. So, yes I think that 90-minute conservation definitely frames the inspection.”Trish Farrelly – Principal – Gossops Green Primary in Crawley
The new Ofsted Framework shows a clear desire to move towards finding the “evidence” to prove what your data says within the Deep Dives.
This detailed look at curriculum means that the focus is more on subject leaders and pupils’ work but this means every leader in your school needs to be able to discuss their own and wider curriculum including planning, assessment and data..
Curriculum Intent Implementation & Impact – Ensure understanding embedded at every level so “all staff talk with same clarity as leaders”. Essential all know both their own & wider curriculum. Ensure all staff can explain what & why of assessment & exemplify how used in planning
Be On The Same Page – Real emphasis on triangulation between leaders, teachers & students. Student focus groups selected from each year. Robust & extensive conversations within these (students + inspector only) have significant weighting
Assessment – Ensure all staff can explain what & why of assessment & exemplify how used in planningSteve Warner – Secondary DHT on Twitter
The process was probing and rigorous. They visited nearly every (if not every) classroom at least once. There was a clear focus on reading inc. the quality of phonics teaching. The ‘deep dives’ were thorough and exacting. For e.g. maths was looked at from EYFS to Y6 in one school. They looked at impact of the wider curriculum. They spoke to children about right & wrong. They spoke to governors, a Trustee & the School Improvement Adviser.Heather Leatt – School Improvement Advisor on Twitter
So, although Ofsted will not look at internal data, they will ask you how you are using it.
Your internal data is still required and is essential for monitoring and assessment purposes.
Ofsted are still very much interested in how you have used your data to improve attainments and progress over time as this quote from an inspection report completed under the new framework shows..
Good-quality teaching and the effective use of assessment have led to a trend of improvement in pupils’ attainment in reading, writing and mathematics and a range of other subjects.
So, despite what they say, both your external and internal data remain central to your school and should not be ignored.
A thorough understanding of both is need for headteachers, school leaders and teachers to guide the conversation both before and during the inspection deep dives.
They will not look directly at spreadsheets and marksheets, but the inspectors are very interested in how you are making progress over time with each individual pupil, how the curriculum caters for all cohort groups, and how data informs decisions.
Ofsted say they will not examine any internal data but they will expect to see that decisions are based upon it.
The focus is now very much on “What ARE you doing now?” rather than “What did you do last year?“
How to Make the Most of Your School Data
- Prepare in advance what you want to get across about your school – Frame the Inspection.
- Be Clear – There is an assumption that all staff should have a good understanding of the external data of your school.
- Make sure you can explain how data has informed the philosophy, decision making and sequencing of your curriculum.
- Be clear about the different cohorts. Notice how the inspections focused in on specific areas (Expected Progress, Phonics Screening)
- Be able to show how you have used data to inform school improvement and progress over time.
- But above all else, remember your school data is all about maximising potential and how you can help your pupils with their learning..
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