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Attainment v Progress? You should know about this!

Discussion in 'Ofsted inspections' started by jgsearl, Mar 15, 2010.

  1. <table cellspacing="0" cellpadding="0"><tr><td class="post">In the March 2010 edition of "Schools and inspection", Ofsted has provided inspectors with additional guidance on judging attainment and achievement. I have produced an information sheet reproducing that guidance, which is now on the TES resources pages at:
    Even if you haven't had time to read the whole "Schools and inspection document", this section is worth a look. If you lead a school where attainment is low, but progress is good, or better, it may be particularly helpful in preparing for inspection
  2. I am not sure that this sheet helps at all. It just repeats the same jargon that is in all the other Ofsted papers. It doesn't explain how progress will be judged, or how CVA will be used. It doesn't say how attainment will be used except in a rather vague way by comparing it with other schools and using 'professional judgement' (read 'fudge').

    This is not clear enough. It isn't acceptable any more for inspectors to declare their judgement without explaining it fully. If they have to hide behind statistics, or 'my professional judgement which can't be challenged' then they won't be credible.

    Every school's concern now is that low attainment now means a bad report. This sheet seems to reinforce that view. Why bother visiting a school if Ofsted aren't going to try to see things from a school's point of view and look at the breath of what they do?

    Here is a suggestion. Go back and write it again so that it offers practical guidance that schools can use, with exact descriptions about how judgements can be deduced using information about progress, value-added and attainment.
  3. Of course ICT works you are entitled to your opinion but... oh my goodness how rude! As my mother used to like to say - if you can't say anything nice....
  4. I think you are being over-sensitive. JGSearl, as an Ofsted inspector, doesn't need the message to be softened. He offered this community a paper to which he said 'You should know about this'. I read it and it didn't clarify anything for me. Maybe it makes more sense to you? I think it better to give him feedback than not to, and have him think he has somehow enlightened us.

    My suggestion that he rewrite it to make is more useful is absolutely serious. I would like guidance on these matters and JGS is presumably saying that he has the answers.
    It is simply a question of being clear and communicating successfully.
    He would expect that as a minimum from any teacher that he observed.

  5. Just to clarify!
    I am not an Ofsted inspector and do not take part in these forums on Ofsted's behalf.
    The sheet is headed as follows:

    <font size="2">I apologise if this seemed to be Ofsted giving you information via TES. I thought this heading made it quite clear that I was simply reporting. Sadly Ofsted is not so forthcoming, so I thought it would be helpful to alert others to the content of the latest " Schools and inspection" document, <u>which is aimed at inspectors</u>. The content of the sheet is copied unchanged from this document.</font>
    I think the document is useful to schools because it shows how Ofsted is telling inspectors to use their judgement in weighing up the balance between attainment and progress when coming to the overall decision about achievement. It also makes clear the expectations about what inspectors must do to explain their judgements. This information can help schools to make SEF judgements that are more likely to be seen as accurate at inspection time.
    In my opinion, the revised Ofsted evaluation schedule is quite clear about the whole issue of progress and attainment, but is poorly set out. May I refer readers of this forum to:
    which is my attempt to set out the schedule more clearly. Please note, the layout is mine, but the content is entirely Ofsted's!!
  6. zinzan

    zinzan New commenter

    Have to say it is a bit 'wordy' and possibly for the higher level of data user, as mentioned in the other posters blog. Not sure if it would help a teacher Z
  7. Before someone goes to my website and reports back that I am indeed an Ofsted inspector, I should make clear that whilst I qualified as an inspector in the 1990's, it was as a serving head teacher and I gave the badge back some time ago!
  8. Thank you for this.
    Are you able to comment on the issue that keeps coming up here that Ofsted is now being much tougher on schools, but that they are being particularly hard on schools dealing with low ability pupils?
    This seems really unfair to me. If I were looking for another job I would first look at their A-C score. If it wasn't at least 30% I would give it a miss.
    I know this is silly because I know there are lots of inner city schools that are very good, but if we are going to get our careers blighted why should we teach there?
  9. I think Ofsted's argument is that schools cannot say progress is good enough when, year after year, end of key stage attainment stays very low. The new inspection schedule is very clear about this and the new guidance emphasises the point. They are able to point to examples where very low attainment on entry has been transformed by the end of phase. Yes, I think Ofsted is being tougher, but the young people in low attaining schools might be grateful for that.
    I have been a head teacher in schools facing a range of challenges. It is possible to turn low attainment figures round, but it requires effective and lucky leadership! Effective and lucky in various ways, but most of all in being able to attract and keep good teachers who are in the "right" school. I mean the right school for them. The variation in schools is incredible. When advising teachers who are looking to move on, I beg them not to jump at the first opportunity, but to be selective about where they apply. Some teachers love the challenges of deprived areas and hate the thought of working in an area where parents are "pushy". Some teachers love the challenges of a multi-cultural area. Some teachers love a rural setting. In the "right" schools, the vast majority of teachers can be happy and effective. I know that this kind of choice isn't always available, but life really is too short for teachers to stay in jobs where they are both unhappy and, possibly, not as effective as they might be.
  10. Thanks again. You seem to be confirming that low attainment means low progress, and this means a critical Ofsted report. This also means poor leadership and inadequate teaching.
    They don't discriminate with the teaching.You all get taken together, even if you are a good teacher getting good progress from less able classes.
    So if you go to work in a school in the bottom quarter of the league tables then Ofsted are going to say your teaching is inadequate. If you go to a school in the top half they will say you are a good teacher.
    I dont think many teachers will want to go and work in a schools where the government is going to bash them. This is going to cause a recruitment problem which will only make weak schools worse.
  11. dontdoit007

    dontdoit007 New commenter

    JgSearl thanks. Could you perhaps demystify:
    We are a SEN (and independant) school and a lot of our kids have been out of school before they come to us. Will ofted be more linient and will we be judged differently?
    Thanks in advance

  12. Replying to juliamac. Even when inspecting special schools, Ofsted expects inspectors to judge progress and attainment in respect of the children's potential to achieve standards of attainment better than low. Quite correctly, in my view, Ofsted does not accept that there are whole schools of children incapable of achieving anything but low standards. Standards can be raised, even in so-called "challenging" schools. The teacher you identify, who is getting good progress, is the living proof of what can be done. I have led a number of schools in Ofsted categories and in each one there were teachers like this who I used as mentors, guides and leaders to move the school forward. No-one enjoys the process of being placed in a category, but many teachers I have worked with have been grateful that things changed as a result. As for recruitment, you would be surprised how many teachers are up for the challenge, given the right conditions of leadership and support. As I have said before, it's horses for courses. Teachers need to choose very carefully which frying pan to inhabit!
  13. Replying to dontdoit007: In the supplementary guidance to inspectors on the Ofsted website there is a section about special schools, which is worth reading. If you would like me to send it to you, email me at jgsearl@aol.com.
    The last page of the Ofsted evaluation schedule deals with judging achievement in special schols, pupil referral units and resourced provision in mainstream schools.
    My format of the schedule can be found on this website at:
    <font size="2">https://www.tes.co.uk/article.aspx?storycode=6033869</font>
    The answer to your question is no, they will not be more lenient and you will not be judged differently, in that inspectors are expected to judge progress and outcomes according to children's potential and what is achieved nationally by children with similar potential.
  14. Thank you Mr Searle for sharing these materials, and for your helpful comments. I have encouraged schools to ensure that the AHT with responsibilty for standards has made it their job to understand the new evaluation framework and communicate it to all staff.
    Your papers will help.

    There is a grey area in inspections to do with the difference between progress and attainment. There is concern that judgements about the school are being linked directly to judgements of pupils' attainment. This isn't what the framework says. The emphasis needs to be on progress rather attainment. The quality of learning is equally important, but the school needs to show what it is like over time - not just during the inspection week. The evaluation framework gives good guidance on this, and it is important that schools understand it as clearly as the inspection team that are carrying out their inspection.

    If a school is in doubt they must look at the evidence base for the inspection and to how the evaluation schedule says that this evidence should be evaluated. If the inspector's conclusions don't fit, the school should mount a challenge. Do this in a sensible analytical way based on the evidence, not your feelings. You must ask specifically about how they weighed up the evidence. If they are comparing the school to like schools then take a good look at this comparison.

    Better still, try to work out long before the inspection how the evidence about the school will be used, as laid out in the evaluation framework.
  15. I was responsible for attainment and progress when we were recently inspected. we achieved outstanding with low attainment. i heavily focussed on progress and looked at various groups. i also compared progress of pupils who had attended for at least 1 year. I kept the data simple and talked about what we do with the data. the inspector was very impressed as all children not making our high target of progress were placed into intervention programmes which measured progress constantly with small incremental steps.
    in short our assesments were termly, early interventions were built into the school ethos, and were not boring. All showed pupils catching up with their peers.
    My school is an SEBD primary, which under the new framework of inspections would be treated as a mainstream due to the fact we did not have enough pupils with cognitive disabilities and apparently they have not excuse not to get level 4s in their SATs!
    The advice I have to all worried - get your data sorted and think about what you are going to say. Get a good governor or your SIP to ask difficult and annoying questions about your data and regularly meet with them until you are confident and proud of your data.
  16. in reply to dontdoit007
    it depends if you are an SEBD school or if your SEN status is due to learning difficulties. If the latter you will not be judged on attainment.
    ofsted are not lenient in terms of lack of progress. It is important that one of the groups used is a seperation of those that have been with you for less than and those more than a year. this will show the inspectors the comparisons. Also showing them the start grades and the average progress per year also assists in proving your worth. If your data programme does this great, if not most admins worth their salt could put together some comparative data on excel (or similar) and even knock up some pretty graphs!
    We got outstanding and didn't find the inspector lenient but he was impressed that we presented a positive set of data for a school that rescued pupils on the verge of or as a result of permanent exclusion. Do not use the excuse of the pupils having difficulties, I used the line that we do not see poor behaviour as an excuse for not achieving (that went down quite well).
  17. dontdoit007

    dontdoit007 New commenter

    thanks colin_franklyn.
    We are an independant SEN school due to Asperger Syndrome (primarily) with a sprinkling of ADHD and the likes. How many pupils are in your school?
    Before they end up with us, our kids have experienced exclusion from schools and most have not been in school for at least a year.
  18. Google the data genie blog that someone pointed out in this forum.It has some good suggestions on how to prepare for inspectors.
  19. Hi Chocolatechick191.
    I have a system of continuous assessment through curriculum target setting, which enables schools to demonstrate progress on a day-to-day, week-by-week basis. It is not about intervention programmes, but about teachers and children having a realistic picture of prior learning and and clearly set out next steps. I must point out that I have a commercial interest here. However, should you be interested to find out more, please e-mail me at jgsearl@aol.com.

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