We all know why Ofsted inspections are necessary and without them it may be hard to imagine what some children, young people and adult learners’ experiences would be like if you consider the findings from some recent inspections of our sectors.
Preparing for your new provider monitoring visit, full inspection or monitoring visit after full inspection can be a positive experience but it can also be quite stressful for some individuals.
This blog will discuss what you can do to ensure you are always prepared so that when the call comes (bear in mind that Ofsted can arrive unannounced) you feel confident to throw open your doors and let them in because you know exactly where your organisation is in its journey.
Some recent inspections interactions with inspectors have highlighted the following:
Does your policy reflect your learners in as much as the age of the learners- do you refer anywhere to children and young people or adults within it and do you cite Keeping Children Safe in Education 2023 (KCSiE). How do you safeguard you staff and other stakeholders? Schools and colleges should have fully embedded the KCSiE into their practices and all staff should be aware of any changes and updates and what they mean for the people and the organisation.
Does your policy identify the relevant dangers or potential harms that are current such as Incels in the training room, the Online Safety Bill and what this means for them- if you have adult learners and if they are managers in their organisations what it means for their staff. If you are an education establishment, you must review your Prevent Risk Assessments to ensure they are robust enough and include the new legislation including any Prevent Duty Updates 2023 that come into force in December this year. For example, reducing permissive environments means not allowing extremists in your environments.
Schools and Colleges and other training settings must be aware and review their policies to include filtering and monitoring, and the online pre-recruitment checks for shortlisted candidates. Do you use an appropriate organisation to support your checking of candidates such as Sign in Central Record as part of your Safer Recruitment process and procedures which should include filtering and monitoring?
If you have a low-level concerns policy, this will need to include filtering and monitoring or if this is part of your safeguarding and prevent policy it needs to be within this policy. Safeguarding needs to be driving this and not the IT support function of your organisation. Training Providers need to look at the DfE’s Cyber Security Standards and ensure this is part of your usual safeguarding processes and procedures.
You must ensure anyone who comes onto your premises such as guest speakers or people/organisations renting office/classroom space or using rooms/space for other activities such as after school clubs are following the After-Schools Clubs, Community Activities and Tuition Safeguarding Guidance for Providers. You will be responsible for ensuring they follow this guidance. This will support the capture of low-level concerns. Ofsted will be checking this during inspections and monitoring visits.
For schools and colleges, you need to include prevent information in your safeguarding files and these will need to be shared with the new education setting when an individual moves from school to college or from school to school or college to college. Make sure this information is sent in a timely manner and that it has been received.
How are you tracking you learners’ success and not just in outcomes of their qualification, but have they received a pay increase, a promotion, are they more confident in their role now. If they move employer or job how long are you tracking the learner for and how are you then using this information? How are children gaining the resilience they need to move into F.E. or into apprenticeships or the world of work?
For post 16 learners, do you know what impact you have had on the learners in meeting their career/life aspirations such as if they can now afford to buy their own home? Ofsted are now working more closely with the ESFA around soft skills intelligence for inspections.
What impact have you had on the employer and their organisation, how do you know, how are you collecting, collating, and acting upon this information? What can you show to identify this?
This is not just the document itself, but the process of when you start to write your SAR and who you involve and how for example, do you run learners focus groups, how do you get employer feedback? How do you involve parents/carers or guardians? How do you use this feedback within your SAR and if an inspector asked a learner or employer, parent, carer or guarding how they feed into your SAR, what do you think they would say, would they know how they do this and how do they know what you have improved or are improving from their feedback?
You need to be honest especially when grading yourself against the Education Inspection Framework otherwise Ofsted will have a concern that you do not truly understand where your organisation is and therefore the Leadership and Management judgement may be affected.
The Quality Improvement Plan (QIP) this should drop out of the content of your SAR, does your QIP include a Goal Statement, e.g., what the solution looks like when it’s fixed.
Recent inspections have brought this to attention, and a number of organisations have been graded requires improvement due to a lack of robust and meaningful CEIAG. How are you ensuring that your learners receive good quality careers advice? Do you use the Ifate road maps as these can be useful. Do you use the National Career Service for example?
For post 16 or adult learners do you work with employers to review all potential roles within their organisation that learners can be promoted to either in their own departments or within others or potentially another site where employers have multiple sites? Do you identify how this can support the employer’s succession planning with them? Have you considered asking the EPA/s if they can complete a supportive visit and complete a careers advice session, there are a number of sectors specialist publications that publish the different roles that can be achieved, and this can be useful. Whist we need to be careful not to advise learners to leave their current employers, we can ensure they are aware of the many different types of industry where their qualifications and experience would be seen as desirable if they had to change career paths for whatever reason.
Think about how you embed CEIAG throughout the learner’s journey and not just something you stick on the end of their learning programme or before they leave school or college. This will also help to ensure the learner is on the right programme and the right level if you start to look at career planning at induction.
During reviews, look at the next 3 months as a minimum and what the learners will be doing to align on and off-the-job training or what other additional learning or courses in particular around the Green Skills Agenda that would improve their career and employment opportunities.
Do you offer additional catch-up sessions if the learners are struggling to ensure they don’t fall behind. Give the inspectors examples of how this happens and tell your learners it is good if the inspectors hear this from them too. Have examples of review meetings and how you keep employers updated on progress or how you work with parents, carer, or guardians to support them and their children in mind to discuss with inspectors.
The inspectors will want to know how as leaders and managers you know how good the quality of education is in your organisation. You need to be clear as to how you know, what data do you receive, how often, how you use this to review the quality of delivery and ensure continuous improvement including staff training and delivery when this is identified as a concern or that they are underperforming. Do you get to know what feedback the organisation has had from learners, employers, parents, carers, or guardians, how are you holding staff and managers to account on minimum standards levels? Just how strong is your learner and employer voice?
Do governors support and challenge in equal measures, do you have an external individual/s that sit as governors? Governors need to tell you how it is from the data and information they are presented with before and during meetings of the senior leadership team. How swiftly do they react, and can they give examples to an inspector when asked what you have brought to this organisation’s governance and examples of what improvements they have been instrumental in driving forward in your organisation. If you use any specific type of metrics to score the senior leadership team, explain this to the inspectors.
Eyvonne has over 25 years' experience in the education and skills sector working with public and private organisations including the child protection unit (CPU) Eyvonne specialises in supporting organisations such as nursery settings, schools, colleges, indepenent training providers and prison education units.