The implications of the Common Inspection Framework for post-16 providers – By John Philip

12 April, 2016

Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the classroom for the new academic year, along comes another Ofsted framework. This one is different. It’s a Common Inspection Framework (CIF) covering schools, colleges and early years’ providers.

Although the CIF still has separate inspection handbooks for schools and colleges, the guidance for inspecting the effectiveness of school’s 16 to 19 study programmes and inspecting the Further Education & Skills sector is very similar.

Even a cursory glance at the framework documents reveals they are dominated by ‘Progress’. This is no surprise as the 2016 accountability measures for both KS4 & Post-16 are dominated by student progress.

It is advisable to view the 5 key headline accountability measures and the CIF as two halves of the same picture.

Ignore student progress at your peril as minimum A Level floor standards based on your L3VA score will be set on this measure. In terms of ‘Outcomes’, more weight will be attached to the current progress of all groups across all subjects and all year groups and less on historic data. As the L3VA has no analysis of current progress – not even the AS results of current Y13 (Y2) – this points up the critical importance of having Alps reports, benchmarked against national data, to evidence student progress. The inspection handbooks make it clear that ‘during inspection, inspectors should consider performance information presented by the school for current pupils across year groups and previous cohorts, including that provided by external organisations’. Alps Monitoring Reports, for example the MPZ Report may prove invaluable to you.

Inspectors will evaluate the progress made by disadvantaged students compared with that made nationally by other students with similar starting points and the extent to which any gaps in this progress are closing. They will also pay attention to whether the most able pupils are achieving as well as they should by attaining the highest grades. If this makes you consider either Alps Pupil Premium Reports and/or High Grades Reports, give the office a ring on 01484 887600.

You must also pay careful attention to both student retention and destinations, the progress students re-taking GCSE English and Mathematics make and your average grade(s).

If you do all this, you will find little to threaten you with sleepless nights in the CIF.

How you prepare students positively for life in modern Britain and promote British values of democracy will be under the microscope so make sure ‘Prevent & Challenge’ is part of your school or college safeguarding framework and is visible both on your website and in-house.

Finally, what else is new?

Firstly, if a provider has been judged to be grade 2 – Good in the most recent inspection they will receive a short inspection roughly every three years. At the end of the inspection the Good judgement may be confirmed or an extension may be necessary to evaluate whether provision is outstanding or requires improvement.

Ofsted will no longer contract with inspection service providers (ISPs). Instead, all inspectors will be managed in-house by Ofsted. Hopefully this will lead to greater consistency in both experience and judgements.


About the Author
John is a national trainer who specialises in leadership and maximising achievement at KS5. He also works as a senior consultant and gives feedback to schools and LAs on the quality of post-16 provision. John has written numerous articles, and his ‘99 Ideas to Raise Achievement at KS5’ draws on his four decades of experience in sixth forms.

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