The introduction of a new Ofsted Common Inspection Framework (Cif) from this month was preceded by a number of pilot inspections under the new system. Ryan Longmate reflects on his pilot inspection experience.

The launch of the new Cif will no doubt pose many new questions to schools, colleges and FE providers across the country, so as an FE provider ourselves the opportunity to be a ‘guinea pig’ and pilot the new inspection model was too good to turn down.

As a grade two national provider, the new model allows for inspections to take place approximately every three years over a reduced period of two days.

The purpose of this inspection is to confirm that the previous grade for overall effectiveness is accurate; safeguarding is effective and the provision remains good.

We were notified of the impending inspection two days prior, which does not differ from previous inspections however the observation and inspection timetable itself was all new.

The structure of the inspection team was consistent with the previous framework and in essence not much was new — the inspection team consisted of a lead inspector and three inspectors who remained on site throughout the two days, along with an additional two field-based inspectors.

To begin with, we did have some reservations in relation to the reduced inspection time and was concerned that we possibly would not have sufficient time to demonstrate our abilities to meet all the objectives within the new Cif.

However, over the course of the next few days, we soon came to realise that the changes to the inspection process would allow this reduced timeframe to work and be successful.

As with any inspection, preparation was key to achieving a positive outcome, which was even more important under the new inspection model.

Communication was very good with clear and timely updates provided throughout.

Although the feedback was not as in-depth or as lengthy as it was under the old framework, it remained accurate and easily digestible for all to appreciate and understand.

So what else has changed?

In the past, a typical inspection would focus on the key elements of observing teaching and learning, quality of teaching provision and leadership and management.

We soon came to realise that the changes to the inspection process would allow this reduced timeframe to work and be successful

The subtle shift we experienced was more focus on all areas of our safeguarding practices and procedures, our ability to maintain and measure the quality of our safeguarding provision, and the continuous training and development of all of our workforce, learners and all stakeholders to achieving it.

Teaching and learning continued to play a big part in the inspection and the framework.

However, the whole experience was on a smaller scale than previous inspections.

This allowed for more focus and depth in areas and topics such as radicalisation, extremism, grooming and bullying.

The new levels of expectation and greater emphasis on driving these areas as a provider were extremely beneficial and allowed greater insight into what the future of FE standards looks like.

The feedback provided was honest and clear and we felt the judgements were not only fair but reliable; the flexible approach to the new inspection model was greatly received by all of our staff and learners.

In summary, our advice to all FE providers  who are to be inspected under the new framework in the future is to embrace the changes, be open and honest on where you are positioned against the framework standards.

Be prepared in all areas, as we firmly believe the changes made provide a ‘’better inspection for all’’.