Dr Chris Jones sets out the focus of the watchdog’s new framework, which will be in place from September
It is always a great pleasure to attend, deliver workshops and speak at the AELP conference, especially now, as we all prepare for the new inspection framework that comes in this September.
The new Ofsted framework has four key judgements. It seeks to rebalance what we look at on inspection by focusing on the substance of the curriculum and supporting leaders and teachers who act with integrity; namely, those who do the right thing for their learners and apprentices and who resist the temptation to take shortcuts.
The framework puts the curriculum back at the centre of inspection to ensure young people and adults receive the high-quality training and support they need to improve their knowledge and skills, get a new job or promotion, or gain the qualifications they need to go to university or higher levels of training.
A new quality of education judgment will evaluate the education and training that providers offer to all their learners and apprentices. Previously, we looked at the curriculum as a small element of leadership and management, and not through a teaching and assessment lens. With this framework, we will look in greater depth at what the provider chooses to offer, how well the curriculum is ordered and structured, and whether it is taught well.
“The framework puts the curriculum back at the centre”
With that focus, it is also important that we look at what happens to learners and apprentices after their education and training. Did they gain the qualifications or apprenticeship they were working towards? Did they develop the knowledge, skills and behaviours needed for their next steps? Did they progress to their intended destination?
A separate behaviour and attitudes judgment will allow inspectors to consider how effectively providers and employers set expectations for a calm and orderly environment for teaching, training and work. Central to this is a strong focus on attendance and turning up on time for learning and work. Simply put, if a learner or apprentice is frequently absent and often late, they are not developing the employability skills they need.
On our personal development judgment – this is about looking at the things that affect all of us at every stage of our lives: mental and physical health, equality, diversity, British values and the prevention of radicalisation and extremism in all its forms. It is also about effective careers information and guidance. For apprentices, it means covering more than just the “job” they are doing and giving them chances to learn about the range of occupations and wider skills that their training prepares them for.
Finally, the leadership and management judgment focuses on how well leaders and managers support teachers, trainers and assessors to improve their subject knowledge, teaching and assessing skills and the integrity with which they select the subjects they teach and run the organisation.
Central to the leadership and management judgment are questions about who helps the provider to develop a clarity of vision, ethos and direction. Governance is a challenging principle in further education and skills, especially in small, independent training providers. This is why, in our handbook, we focus on the process of governance and not on people called “governors”. Who holds leaders to account for performance? Who makes sure that public money is well spent?
I would also like to address the issue of safeguarding and keeping young people and vulnerable adults safe. It is about understanding local risks relevant to where your learners and apprentices live and work. If, for example, knife crime, sexual exploitation or far-right extremism are issues that your learners could face daily, then these are risks facing all learners and apprentices, regardless of age. Leaders, managers and teachers must ensure that the curriculum provides learners with access to the support they need to deal with those issues.
Finally, the framework consultation feedback made us aware of concerns about the lack of review around further education and skills research, so today we publish research activity specifically for the sector. You can read more here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/education-inspection-framework-overview-of-research