Sean Harford HMI, National Director of Education for Ofsted, recently addressed the annual Association of Education Advisers (AoEA) conference held in York, to get the message out about the new inspection framework, which comes into effect this September.

The AoEA is an organisation launched by Newcastle education specialist Les Walton OBE, and is headquartered in North Tyneside.

With a growing number of associates and senior associates nationally, who advise the education sector on a raft of issues, over 100 delegates had gathered at the Hilton Hotel in York to mark the second annual summit of AoEA, keen to hear more about the anticipated changes to the Ofsted inspection framework, which will make a huge difference to the way in which schools plan and deliver their curriculum.,

Its introduction follows Ofsted’s  biggest ever consultation exercise with more than 250 pilot inspections and over 15,000 responses being received by email, via its online questionnaire and as a result of a campaign by YoungMinds.  Additionally, there were 150 face-to-face engagement events and over 400 people joined in external webinars between January and April 2019.

The new quality of education judgment puts the curriculum at the heart of inspection.  Inspectors will have a connected, educationally focused conversation with schools and their leadership teams, which will incorporate curriculum design, coverage, appropriateness and delivery, as well as pedagogy, assessment, attainment and progress, reading and readiness for the next stage of education.

Speaking about the new framework of assessment, Mr Harford said:  “The new quality of education judgement will be introduced from September.  Children must be given a richness of curriculum that will enable them to achieve success in later life.

“Alongside discussions with senior leaders, pupils and teachers, we will be scrutinising pupils’ work, holding discussions with curriculum leaders and visiting a sample of lessons.  The new inspection will proceed with inspectors not looking at non-statutory progress and attainment data, for example, if a school undertakes assessments of its own with an external consultant, but instead, will ask what leaders understand about progress and attainment in the school and look at that evidence together with the leaders.

“We will also be considering the actions taken by schools in response to their understanding of progress and attainment.

“It is not enough to get good examination results if these are achieved at the expense of a broadly balanced curriculum.  This can be a difficult concept to explain to headteachers.”

The AoEA was launched a year ago by Les Walton CBE, after a lifetime spent in education, to provide an assessment and accreditation process for anyone working within the sector as a consultant or adviser.

Mr Walton became aware that while there is extensive regulation of schools, colleges and universities to ensure high standards of delivery and outcomes, there was not a national system in place to ensure the quality and consistency of advice given by consultants to these institutions.   The accreditation system he has developed is a step forward in ensuring that school improvement advisers are well-trained and of the highest quality.  He thanked Mr Harford for providing an insight into the new inspection framework, saying:

“The results of the consultation about the new inspection framework have been eagerly anticipated and we are delighted that Mr Harford could lift the lid on these new measures for us.  Advisers play a critical role within the education system and are increasingly deployed to provide specialist advice in a wide range of areas, so being able to hear first-hand about these new measures has been extremely valuable.”

AoEA now has regional centres in North East England, Yorkshire, Greater Manchester, London, Southern Counties and West Midlands with plans during 2020 to open more in the South West, East Midlands, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.