I recently attended some training for school governors centred around the Ofsted education framework and found the session to be very useful. I decided to put what I had learned in a post as I thought it may be useful as a reminder for other governors. After all it has been 2 years since we had to think seriously about the role of Ofsted, more important things have occupied all our minds.
The current framework has been in place since 2019 but has barely been used due to the health pandemic. Therefore the framework is still in its infancy in terms of usage. In this framework the emphasis is on the curriculum rather than data and pupil outcomes. As a result of this shift the role of governors has also changed and they are no longer expected to hold leaders to account for internal pupil progress.
Inspectors will make graded judgements in four areas:
Quality of education
Behaviour and attitudes
Leadership and management
The first one, the quality of education is the core of inspection and impinges on all the strands. Further judgements will made if the school has an early years or post 16 sector.
The judgement of the effectiveness of governors has been removed in this framework and governance continues to sit within the leadership and management strand.
Her majesty’s Chief Inspector of Education Amanda Spielman stated that after 12 years of compulsory education children should leave school with more than some ill defined skills. Education should be more than working towards external exams and passing with high marks. Children should develop a deep body of knowledge from the curriculum. They should be ready for the next phase in their lives and not merely be working towards SATs or GCSEs.
So what does this mean for governors. Governors will still need to have knowledge of data in the form of Progress 8 and Attainment 8. The change is that inspectors won’t discuss the data with governors but they may ask how well pupils achieve across the curriculum. What is the quality of the curriculum? Inspectors may ask governors how the curriculum was decided upon. Governors need to discuss with leaders about the purpose, rationale and shape of the curriculum being delivered. Governors should also ask leaders if teachers are delivering it properly in a way that allows pupils to make progress. The curriculum must be ambitious and it must match the aims of the national curriculum. There must also be a clear rationale for the curriculum. Keeping all this in mind the curriculum should be high on the agenda of the governing body.
Information regarding deep dives
As we all know prior to an Ofsted visit there will be a phone call to the head teacher and may include other senior leaders. There will be an in depth conversation about the whole curriculum offer and from this information inspectors will decide on a number of deep dives. In a section 5 inspection there may be as many as 6 deep dives and in a section 8 there will be at least 3. Under the last framework governors would be invited on day one to join this conversation, now they are usually invited in on day 2. These deep dives are a method of gaining information about the curriculum and are not intended to be a mini inspection of the subject. The deep dives are conducted and the information is analysed and forms the basis of the inspection. Inspectors will meet with subject leaders and discuss how the subject was developed, how staff organise and understand it prior to popping in to see lessons. Once in the lessons they may stay 10-15 minutes to see how the curriculum is delivered and to witness the behaviour of the pupils. They will also see where the lesson sits in the plans. There will be a work scrutiny for the deep dive classes visited and teachers will be invited to discuss how and why they deliver the subject in the way that they do. Governors will be asked about the curriculum and delivery so it’s important that they have some context for their discussion.
The governance handbook makes it clear that governance has three core functions:
To ensure clarity of vision, ethos and strategic direction
To hold leaders to account for the performance of staff and pupils
To hold leaders to account for the financial aspects of the school
Governors are also expected to ensure there is a focus on Prevent Duty, Equality and Safeguarding within the school.
As a governor there may be questions around SEND, the curriculum and the strategic direction of the school. There may be questions on the well being of staff and the headteacher as this is a new focus. Inspectors will also be interested in understanding how the governing body ensures that as a collective they have the knowledge and skills to fulfil their duties. Also, how do governors keep up to date with important information and how do governors ensure school is compliant. Finally, keep in mind that safeguarding is everyone’s concern and all governors should have some knowledge of how pupils are kept safe.
I hope this has been a useful reminder to governors of our role in schools and the knowledge needed for Ofsted.
Thank you for reading.