Ofsted Feedback from Autumn 2008 Pilot

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On the 17th, Ofsted published their findings from the pilot they undertook in Autumn 2008 within 63 schools. This all relates to the proposed new inspection framework for maintained schools from September 2009 as described previously.

As we're most interested in surveys, it's worth reporducing their findings in full:

23. All the pilot schools carried out a survey of parents, many trialled the staff survey and a few the pupils’ questionnaire. It was agreed that the surveys provide useful evidence which helps to triangulate the schools’ own self-evaluation and substantiate key judgements such as the capacity to improve. They are also very useful in raising issues for inspectors to investigate further.

24. Schools were generally comfortable with the concept of parental questionnaires, which are routinely distributed through section 5 inspections. However, many believe that their own surveys often provide greater detail and can be focused on school-specific issues. Special schools noted the issue of limited accessibility for some of their parents. As with previous pilot arrangements there were logistical issues to do with analysing large numbers of questionnaires, quickly.

25. Staff questionnaires were received favourably. Headteachers mentioned that negative views might be misinterpreted as ‘weak leadership’ in situations where leaders were trying to influence intransigent staff. It was accepted that the questionnaires would raise issues on which the inspectors would need to find further evidence. It was also noted that there should be a consistent approach regarding the use of pupils’ questionnaires. Concerns were raised about their accessibility for pupils with learning difficulties and very young children. The reliability of young children’s responses could be unduly influenced by isolated, recent events.

I think these comments hit the nail on the head. Ofsted surveys by their nature are very focused and limited. Any school which uses their own pupil, parent or staff surveys will have much more evidence to provide to inspectors.
Ofsted pupil and parent surveys are more familiar to schools, but staff surveys are a bit newer. In our experience of thousands of schools, an in depth survey of staff allows any negativity to be properly placed in a whole school context and viewed across different staff roles.

The best way to respond to any results from an Ofsted pupil, parent or staff survey is to have already completed your own survey!

You will have the luxury of time to analyse and explore the results. You should then be able to demonstrate that your action plans have been effective in improving the situation - particularly useful if you are starting from a 'low base'.

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