We have seen one of the biggest changes in the OFSTED framework last term. All inspectors have gone through rigorous tests and training; many previous inspectors are not now inspecting; all inspections are led by HMI; schools judged good or outstanding (special schools only) at their previous inspection have a one day visit to check that they are still the same grade, if not this converts to a two day inspection with a bigger team; safeguarding is a key focus; there is a shift in viewing progress; etc., etc.
So where do special schools sit in all this? Whilst outstanding mainstream schools do not have an inspection every three years, special schools do. Why? The response that is given is that this is due to the vulnerability of our children and the unreliability of our data. But where is the parity in this approach?
Coasting schools are receiving a lot of attention with the potential for automatic academisation, but what does a coasting special school look like? How is it identified? Can we define a coasting special school using set criteria?
There is also a change to looking at progress of pupils who are presently attending the school and their progress within the year. There is a move away from focusing heavily on three year data trends (although it is still valuable to have this data). How do special schools show in year progress? How do special schools show expected and exceeding expectation progress? How do schools benchmark when they are using different assessment systems?
What do you think about these issues? Do you have other issues relating to OFSTED that you would like to raise?