September 2012: the time for change


From September 2012 there will be some big changes happening

  • OFSTED are changing their criteria for observations of schools: the whole system is change as they try to make it more transparent.
  • Schools are being encourages to follow new simpler methods of performance management. they are trying to make it more uniform so the process for accountability is easier for all.
  • A new curriculum has been promised, although until it has arrived I am still unsure and as we do not fully know what will be in it I am still rather sceptical.

Personally one of the area that interest me most is how OFSTED make their judgements. They go into a school with little to no warning, spend a few hours with each teacher in turn, talk to key members within the school and they feel they can correctly judge the performance of a school. I’m not sure this is right but this got me thinking.

What do OFSTED look for when they are making these judgements?

Below is a summary of what they look for now in the key areas

  • Quality of teaching in the school
  • Achievement of pupils at the school
  • The behaviour and safety of pupils at the school
  • Quality of leadership in, and management of the school

These then feed into the overall judgement: overall effectiveness: the quality of education provided in the school

Below are the Grade descriptors for each of these categories.

Ofsted September 2012 Grade descriptors

Quality of teaching in the school

Outstanding (1)

  • Much of the teaching in all key stages and most subjects is outstanding and never less than consistently good. As a result, almost all pupils currently on roll in the school, including disabled pupils, those who have special educational needs and those for whom the pupil premium provides support, are making rapid and sustained progress.
  • All teachers have consistently high expectations of all pupils. They plan and teach lessons that enable pupils to learn exceptionally well across the curriculum.
  • Teachers systematically and effectively check pupils’ understanding throughout lessons, anticipating where they may need to intervene and doing so with notable impact on the quality of learning.
  • The teaching of reading, writing, communication and mathematics is highly effective and cohesively planned and implemented across the curriculum.
  • Teachers and other adults generate high levels of engagement and commitment to learning across the whole school.
  • Consistently high quality marking and constructive feedback from teachers ensures that pupils make rapid gains.
  • Teachers use well-judged and often inspirational teaching strategies, including setting appropriate homework that, together with sharply focused and timely support and intervention, match individual needs accurately. Consequently, pupils learn exceptionally well across the curriculum.

 Good (2)

  • Teaching in most subjects, including English and mathematics, is usually good, with examples of some outstanding teaching. As a result, most pupils and groups of pupils currently on roll in the school, including disabled pupils, those who have special educational needs, and those for whom the pupil premium provides support make good progress and achieve well over time.
  • Teachers have high expectations. They plan and teach lessons that deepen pupils’ knowledge and understanding and enable them to develop a range of skills across the curriculum.
  • Teachers listen to, carefully observe and skilfully question pupils during lessons in order to reshape tasks and explanations to improve learning.
  • Reading, writing, communication and mathematics are taught effectively.
  • Teachers and other adults create a positive climate for learning in their lessons and pupils are interested and engaged.
  • Teachers assess pupils’ learning and progress regularly and accurately. They ensure that pupils know how well they have done and what they need to do to improve.
  • Effective teaching strategies, including setting appropriate homework and appropriately targeted support and intervention are matched well to most pupils’ individual needs, including those most and least able, so that pupils learn well in lessons.

Requires improvement (3)

  • Teaching requires improvement as it is not good.

Inadequate (4): Teaching is likely to be inadequate where any of the following apply:

  • As a result of weak teaching over time, pupils or particular groups of pupils including disabled pupils, those who have special educational needs, and those for whom the pupil premium provides support, are making inadequate progress.
  • Pupils cannot: communicate; read or write; apply mathematics as well as they should.
  • Teachers do not have sufficiently high expectations and teaching over time fails to engage or interest particular groups of pupils, including disabled pupils and those who have special educational needs.
  • Learning activities are not sufficiently well matched to the needs of pupils.


Achievement of pupils at the school

Outstanding (1)

  • Taking account of their starting points, the proportion of pupils making and exceeding expected progress is high compared with national figures.
  • Pupils make rapid and sustained progress across many subjects, including English and mathematics, and learn exceptionally well.
  • Pupils read widely and often across all subjects.
  • Pupils develop and apply a wide range of skills to great effect, in reading, writing, communication and mathematics. They are exceptionally well prepared for the next stage in their education, training or employment.
  • Pupils, including those in the sixth form and those in the Early Years Foundation Stage, acquire knowledge quickly and develop their understanding rapidly in a wide range of different subjects across the curriculum.
  • The learning, quality of work and progress of groups of pupils, particularly those who are disabled, those who have special educational needs and those for whom the pupil premium provides support, show that they achieve exceptionally well.
  • The standards of attainment of almost all groups of pupils are likely to be at least in line with national averages with many pupils attaining above this. In exceptional circumstances, an outstanding grade can be awarded where standards of attainment of any group of pupils are be below those of all pupils nationally, but the gap is closing rapidly, as shown by trends in a range of attainment indicators. This may include attainment in reading.

 Good (2)

  • Taking account of their different starting points, the proportion of pupils making or exceeding expected progress compares favourably with national figures. Where the proportion making expected progress overall is lower than that found nationally, it is improving over a sustained period.
  • Progress in a wide range of subjects is consistently strong and evidence in pupils’ work indicates that they achieve well.
  • Pupils read widely and often.
  • Pupils acquire knowledge and develop understanding quickly and securely in a wide range of subjects. They develop and apply a wide range of skills, in reading, writing, communication and mathematics. This ensures that they are well prepared for the next stage in their education, training or employment.
  • The learning and progress of groups of pupils, particularly those who are disabled, those who have special educational needs, and those for whom the pupil premium provides support are good.
  • Where attainment, including attainment in reading in primary schools, is low overall, it is improving at a faster rate than nationally, over a sustained period.

 Requires improvement (3)

  • Pupils’ achievement requires improvement as it is not good.

Inadequate (4): Achievement is likely to be inadequate if any of the following apply:

  • Pupils overall, or particular groups of pupils, are consistently making less than expected progress given their starting point.

The behaviour and safety of pupils at the school

Outstanding (1)

  • Pupils’ attitudes to learning are exemplary.
  • Parents, staff and pupils are unreservedly positive about both behaviour and safety.
  • Skilled and highly consistent behaviour management by all staff makes a strong contribution to an exceptionally positive climate for learning. There are excellent improvements in behaviour over time for individuals or groups with particular behaviour needs.
  • All groups of pupils feel safe at school and at alternative provision placements at all times. They understand very clearly what constitutes unsafe situations and are highly aware of how to keep themselves and others safe, including in relation to e-safety.

 Good (2)

  • Pupils’ attitudes to learning are consistently positive and low-level disruption in lessons is uncommon.
  • There are few well founded concerns expressed by parents, staff and pupils about behaviour and safety.
  • There is a positive ethos in the school, and pupils behave well, have good manners and are punctual to lessons.
  • Behaviour is managed consistently well. There are marked improvements in behaviour over time for individuals or groups with particular behavioural needs.
  • ·         Pupils feel safe at school and at alternative provision placements and understand how to keep themselves safe.  

Requires improvement (3)

  • Behaviour and safety require improvement as these aspects are not good.

 Inadequate (4): Behaviour and safety are inadequate when any of the following apply.

  • Pupils’ lack of engagement and persistent low-level disruption of learning contribute to reduced learning and/or a disorderly classroom environment.
  • A significant minority of pupils show a lack of respect and intolerance for each other or staff and a lack of self-discipline, resulting in poor behaviour around the school.
  • Incidents of bullying overall or specific types of bullying are frequent, and/or pupils have little confidence in the school’s ability to address bullying successfully.
  • Pupils or particular groups of pupils do not feel safe at school and/or at alternative placements.
  • Attendance is consistently low for all pupils or groups of pupils and shows no sign of improvement.
  • Pupils’ learning and progress in any key subject[1] or key stage, including pupils in the sixth form or the Early Years Foundation Stage, indicate they are underachieving.
  • Disabled pupils and/or those who have special educational needs and/or those for whom the pupil premium provides support, are underachieving.
  • Pupils’ communication skills (including reading and/or writing) and proficiency in mathematics overall are not sufficiently strong for them to succeed in the next stage of education, training or employment.
  • Attainment is consistently below floor standards[2] or is in decline and shows little, fragile or inconsistent improvement.
  • There are wide gaps in attainment and/or the learning and progress of different groups.

Quality of leadership in, and management of, the school

 Outstanding (1)

  • The pursuit of excellence in all of the school’s activities is demonstrated by an uncompromising and highly successful drive to strongly improve, or maintain, the highest levels of achievement and personal development for all pupils over a sustained period of time.
  • All leaders and managers, including those responsible for governance, are highly ambitious for the pupils and lead by example. They base their actions on a deep and accurate understanding of the school’s performance, and of staff and pupils’ skills and attributes.
  • Governors, or those with a similar responsibility, robustly hold senior leaders to account for all aspects of the school’s performance.
  • There are excellent policies which ensure that pupils have high levels of literacy, or pupils are making excellent progress in literacy.
  • Leaders focus relentlessly on improving teaching and learning and provide focused professional development for all staff, especially those that are newly qualified and at an early stage of their careers. This is underpinned by highly robust performance management which encourages, challenges and supports teachers’ improvement. As a result, teaching is outstanding, or at least consistently good and improving.
  • The school’s curriculum provides highly positive experiences and rich opportunities for high quality learning. It has a very positive impact on all pupils’ behaviour and safety, and contributes very well to pupils’ academic achievement and their spiritual, moral, social and cultural development.
  • The school has highly successful strategies for engaging with parents to the benefit of pupils, including those who find working with the school difficult.
  • The school’s arrangements for safeguarding pupils meet statutory requirements.
  • Staff model professional standards in all of their work and demonstrate high levels of respect and courtesy for pupils and others.
  • Through highly effective, rigorous planning and controls, governors ensure financial stability, including the effective and efficient management of financial resources such as the pupil premium funding. This leads to the excellent deployment of staff and resources to the benefit of all groups of pupils.

 Good (2)

  • Key leaders and managers, including those responsible for governance,consistently communicate high expectations and ambition.
  • Teaching is good and/or improving strongly as a result of accurate monitoring, effective performance management and professional development, which are closely matched to the needs of the school and staff.
  • Self-evaluation is robust and the school’s actions have been carefully planned, are concerted and effective.
  • The well thought out policies ensure that pupils make at least good progress in literacy.
  • Governors, or those in a similar position, systematically challenge senior leaders. As a result, the quality of teaching and pupils’ achievement have improved, or previous good performance in these areas have been consolidated.
  • The school’s curriculum provides well-organised and effective opportunities for learning for all groups of pupils, including disabled pupils and those with special educational needs. It promotes positive behaviour and a good understanding of safety matters and provides a broad range of experiences that contribute well to the pupils’ achievement and to their spiritual, moral, social and cultural development.
  • The school works well with parents, including those who might find working with the school difficult, to achieve positive benefits for pupils.
  • The school’s arrangements for safeguarding pupils meet statutory requirements.
  • Governors ensure the efficient management of financial resources. This leads to the effective deployment of staff and resources.

Requires improvement (3)

  • Leadership and/or management require improvement because they are not good but are demonstrating the capacity to secure improvement in the school.

Inadequate (4): Leadership and management are likely to be inadequate if any of the following apply.

  • Capacity for securing further improvement is limited because current leaders and managers have been ineffective in securing essential improvements.
  • Improvements which have been made are fragile, too slow or are dependent on external support.
  • Self-evaluation lacks rigour and is inaccurate in its conclusions so that leadership and management do not have a realistic view of outcomes or provision.
  • Leaders and managers are not taking sufficiently effective steps to secure good teaching for all groups of pupils, including disabled pupils and those who have special educational needs.
  • Leaders and managers do not secure good behaviour from all pupils and fail to ensure that staff have a consistent approach to the management of challenging behaviour.
  • The curriculum fails to meet the needs of pupils or particular groups of pupils, or pupils are entered for public examinations inappropriately early, and pupils’ achievement and enjoyment of learning are significantly impaired.
  • A lack of attention to literacy is impeding pupils’ progress.
  • Governors are not sufficiently robust in holding the school to account for pupils’ achievement, the quality of teaching and the effective and efficient deployment of resources.
  • The school’s strategies for engaging with parents are weak and parents have expressed little confidence in the school.
  • The school’s arrangements for safeguarding pupils do not meet statutory requirements and give serious cause for concern.


Overall effectiveness: the quality of education provided in the school

 Outstanding (1)

  • Teaching is outstanding and, together with a rich and relevant curriculum, contributes to outstanding learning and achievement. Exceptionally, achievement may be good and rapidly improving.
  • Pupils, and particular groups of pupils, have excellent educational experiences at school and these ensure that they are very well equipped for the next stage of their education, training or employment.
  • There is excellent practice which ensures that all pupils have high levels of literacy appropriate to their age.
  • The school’s practice consistently reflects the highest expectations of staff and the highest aspirations for pupils, including disabled pupils and those with special educational needs.
  • Best practice is spread effectively in a drive for continuous improvement.
  • Other principal aspects of the school’s work are good or outstanding.
  • The school’s thoughtful and wide-ranging promotion of pupils’ spiritual, moral, social and cultural development enables them to thrive in a supportive, highly cohesive learning community.

 Good (2)

  • Pupils benefit from teaching that is at least good and some that is outstanding. This promotes very positive attitudes to learning and ensures that pupils’ achievement is at least good.
  • Pupils and particular groups of pupils have highly positive educational experiences at school that ensure that they are well prepared for the next stage in their education, training or employment.
  • Pupils’ progress is not held back by an inability to read accurately and fluently. Those pupils who have fallen behind are being helped to make rapid progress in their reading.
  • The school takes effective action to enable most pupils, including disabled pupils and those with special educational needs, to reach their potential.
  • Other principal aspects of the school’s work are likely to be at least good.
  • Deliberate and effective action is taken to create a cohesive learning community through the promotion of pupils’ spiritual, moral, social and cultural development. There is a positive climate for learning.

 Requires improvement (3)

  • The school requires improvement because one or more of the four key judgements requires improvement (grade 3) and/or there are weaknesses in the overall provision for pupils’ spiritual, moral, social and cultural development.


Inadequate (4): The school is likely to be inadequate if inspectors judge any of the following to be inadequate:

The achievement of pupils

  • pupils’ progress in literacy
  • the quality of teaching
  • the behaviour and safety of pupils
  • the quality of the leadership in, and management of, the school
    • and/or
    • there are serious weaknesses in the overall promotion of pupils’ spiritual, moral, social and cultural development.
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