Ofsted snubs FE providers from sub-judgements website change

The move to add sub-judgements to school profiles on its website has been planned for at least two months but will not apply to FE providers

The move to add sub-judgements to school profiles on its website has been planned for at least two months but will not apply to FE providers

10 May 2024, 17:17

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A major change to the way Ofsted displays its judgements will not apply to further education colleges or training providers.

The education watchdog today changed school profiles on its website to show all four inspection sub-judgements alongside the overall effectiveness grade.

Chief inspector Martyn Oliver said this will give parents a more “rounded, contextual picture” of how well a school is doing for children.

However, Ofsted has excluded post-16 providers from the move.

The watchdog told FE Week this is because updating the website to show extra sub-judgements on every education provider’s profile is a large and complex technical change.

Ofsted wants to make sure it works reliably before the change is rolled out further, a spokesperson said.

The added sub-judgements will only appear on the profiles of schools that have had a full graded inspection since September 2019, when the education inspection framework came into effect.

Other inspections and provider types will only be considered once Ofsted is sure that the new system is secure, FE Week understands.

‘These changes should apply across the board’

Tom Middlehurst, inspection specialist at the Association of School and College Leaders, said the single-phrase judgements are “just as damaging” for colleges as for schools.

“These changes ought to apply across the board and displaying different levels of judgements depending on the type of educational establishment only risks causing confusion,” he add.

“We would hope this new system has been comprehensively tested to ensure it works reliably and if there is any danger that this is not the case then it should not be being used for any school or college.

“Ultimately though it is single-phrase judgements themselves, not the way in which they are displayed, that are the real problem.”

‘A small but important step’

Ofsted’s move comes as the consultation stage of its ‘Big Listen’ exercise nears its end.

Oliver, who was appointed as chief inspector in October 2023, said: “I hope this change shows that we have listened to parents and teachers, and that, while Our Big Listen continues until the end of the month, we are acting where we can now.

“This change is a small but important step in helping parents get more from Ofsted’s inspection reports.”

The government has resisted calls to scrap one-word judgements following the death of headteacher Ruth Perry, who took her own life after an Ofsted inspection in November 2022.

A coroner found that the “rude and intimidating” inspection, which resulted in an ‘inadequate’ grade, contributed to her death.

However, despite a recent education committee’s recommendation that a more “nuanced” alternative is found, the government said it has “no plans” to change single-phrase Ofsted judgments.

A spokesperson for the Association of Employment and Learning Providers (AELP) said: “AELP supports the move to greater transparency when it comes to Ofsted inspection reports, and looks forward to this being rolled out to all education providers in due course.”

The Association of Colleges declined to comment.

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One comment

  1. Phillip Hatton

    Typical of Ofsted to insist that we in the FE sector are forced to undergo their ‘one size fits all’ inspection framework but be treated differently when it comes to report publication. This is where the minister needs to step in to ensure equality is not just words that mean nothing.