National Middle Schools’ Forum Newsletter

December 2007


Survey – Headteachers experiences of Ofsted Inspections

Sean Harfod HMI, Assistant Divisional Manager, School Inspection, Institutional Inspections and Frameworks discussed the actions Ofsted have taken following the recent survey of headteacher’s experiences of Ofsted inspections -  at a meeting with the Steering Committee on Tuesday.

The meeting was very productive – and Ofsted have responded by producing some very clear and middle school specific guidance for inspectors - which is also very helpful for schools.

This note and the Ofsted guidance referred to below are available to download from the Conference Reports page of the NMSF website – follow this link:

Notes on discussion with Sean Harford, HMI

20th November 2007

The survey presented solid data to substantiate anecdotal concerns about the consistency of the approach to the analysis of school data during middle school inspections.

Following receipt of the report Ofsted did a retrieval exercise – looking again at a sample of reports. They found that in a number of reports there was no reference to the consideration of school level data. The team may have considered it – but there is no reference in the text of the report. Guidance to inspectors will make it clear that they should clarify what data they have considered in reaching their judgements during feedback.

Before the survey was produced Ofsted was involved in discussions leading to a change in the KS1-2 CVA calculation. Account will now be taken of school transfers during KS2 – the data shows that such pupils make less progress relative to those pupils who do not transfer. This should lead to a small uplift in middle school CVA from the current Raiseonline report.

Guidelines for inspectors have been strengthened in recent guidance to inspectors – Guidance for inspectors on the use of school performance data (July 2007 ref: 070120) – available from the Conference Reports page of the NMSF website and from Ofsted.

“Inspection judgements are based on a far wider evidence base than the RAISE data, and include the school’s more recent internal assessments and observation of learners in the classroom. (p4)

“A broad range of evidence should be considered when evaluating standards. This includes:

·        The school’s results as set out in the RAISE report

·        The SEF and what it says about the latest standards in the school

·        The school’s data……..”


“However where there are no national test results …it is especially important to seek out all the available evidence” (p5)

Schools must set out clearly in the SEF their analysis of their school data. Schools can then expect that inspectors will take a range of internal school data into account – and should press inspectors for time to discuss school data if this appears not to be happening - referring to this guidance if necessary. Schools should set out their analysis of their data about standards on entry and on progress very clearly, and not assume that the inspector will do this analysis themselves.

The latest issue of Schools & Inspection (Issue 1 – November 2007 contains a short article(B4 reproduced in its entirety below) which addresses the issues raised in the survey directly, making explicit mention of middle schools. The article indicates clearly:

a)      the importance for schools of presenting a very clear analysis of their data in their SEF

b)      the expectation that inspectors will consider the full range of available school data from point of entry to year pupils leave the school

B4       Using data provided by the school

Recent training and guidance have further emphasised the need for inspectors to consider fully achievement and attainment data provided by schools before or during the inspection. Some schools, for example middle schools, have asked that inspectors consider unvalidated data or the outcomes of internal assessments.  For middle schools, inspectors should not rely only on Key Stage 1 tests as evidence for attainment on entry when pupils joined the school in Year 4 or Year 5, or fail to take due account of progress made in Years 7 and 8.

Inspectors should consider all reasonable information provided by the school, but should also ensure that the school understands the basis of the final inspection judgements. If schools provide an undigested mass of statistics, it is reasonable to ask them what analysis of the data tells them. A concise summary of what they believe the additional data are telling them is likely to reflect good self-evaluation. Inspectors should state explicitly, at least in feedback, the evidence on which they have based their judgements on standards and achievement, especially where this at variance with the school’s views.

To download the full document visit the Conference Reports page of the NMSF website:

It was clear in the meeting that Ofsted had taken seriously the issues raised in the Survey and had responded by clarifying the expectations for inspection in a way that is helpful both to schools and inspectors.

Nigel Wyatt

Executive Officer

Tel: 01722 710511