Knock, knock….here’s OFSTED!

I’m jumping the gun a bit with this blog post as I, along with everyone else, should wait for both the Ofsted survey into how schools are reacting to the new duty to provide impartial Careers IAG and the adjusted Ofsted framework mentioned below BUT, it’s half term so what you gonna do?

Today the unamended transcript of of Sir Michael Wilshaw’s appearance in front of the Education Select Committee to present Ofsted’s annual report was published. Included is a little nugget that the Association of Colleges quickly jumped on and might mean a lot for the future of Careers IAG in schools.

http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201213/cmselect/cmeduc/uc980-i/uc98001.htm

I’ve quoted the relevant questions here:

Q27 Pat Glass: Can I move off the agenda slightly and ask you a different question? When Matthew Hancock, the Minister, appeared before us recently, we were looking at careers advice and guidance, and he said he was looking to Ofsted to inspect and monitor that. I pointed out that Ofsted had said very clearly that they did not see it as their role to inspect the statutory duty in schools, and asked him if he was going to have a word with you. Has he had a word with you about it?

Sir Michael Wilshaw: Matthew might want to come in here. My view is that it is a good idea to devolve this funding to schools.

Q28 Pat Glass: There is no funding being devolved to schools; the only thing that is being devolved is the statutory duty.

Sir Michael Wilshaw: Yes. It is important that we do monitor it effectively. It is really important that impartial advice is given to students on progression routes, and I am not sure that is the case. In our adjustment to our inspection framework from September, we will give the inspection of careers advice a priority.

So, jump for joy or hide under the table but, either way, Ofsted are coming.

Now, there’s three points I think are worth making from those answers:

  1. I might be reading far too much into what may be a slip of the tongue but, Sir Michael’s first answer, doesn’t fill me with confidence as he gets two things wrong. As Pat Glass MP quickly points out, there was no funding allocated to schools to implement the Careers duty and it probably wasn’t a good idea to devolve this responsibility to schools in the first place – at least nobody who spoke to the Committee in the recent sessions on the issue thought so and the resulting Committee report REALLY didn’t think so. So I’m not wholly convinced that he’s got a strategic handle on it but that might not matter anyway as Ofsted does have a lead inspector for Careers

http://www.ofsted.gov.uk/inspection-reports/our-expert-knowledge/careers-guidance

so he’s going to be relying on his staff knowing their onions from their Super’s developmental theory.

  1. Having just been through a visit from Ofsted to look at our Careers guidance work in school, I can guess at what this might look like during an inspection. A full school inspection is a busy and complex process. Under the new framework a lot of lessons are monitored and the team of inspectors will want to be out and about, around school and talking to students. I can imagine that sitting in a room and interviewing staff about “what they say they do” isn’t going to be their approach. They’re going to want a concise Self Evaluation of your Careers provision in school, perhaps with particular mention of your structures to cater for vulnerable students such as possible NEETS or SEN students or Children in care etc ready for them as they walk through the door. And then they’re going to talk to parents and students to see if what you say you do, you actually do. If there are discrepancies between the feedback they’re getting…that’s when they will make negative judgements.

Once the adjusted inspection framework is published there will be plenty of Senior Leaders in schools asking their Careers people what have they got ready if Ofsted were to walk through the door. To be prepared for this I would suggest getting your Careers events on the school calender so the inspector can see the program of events you run, have student feedback or questionnaire returns about their experience of the IAG the school offered (this is something I know I need to work on), know your destination statistics and have an honest and up to date self evaluation document with strengths and areas to improve clearly defined.

  1. When I heard of this development my reaction was something akin to

There is nothing that will get a majority of leaders in schools to focus on an issue quicker than the clear promise that Ofsted will come looking at it. For the duty on schools to provide impartial IAG to succeed it always needed the weight of Ofsted to monitor it. As I opened with I may be jumping the gun, but there’s potential for this little titbit from Sir Michael, followed by the Ofsted survey and the adjusted framework, for Careers work in schools to build a momentum of importance over the coming months and place it closer to the forefront of school’s Senior Leaders planning. With that more central importance comes the responsibility of inspection and that can only be a good thing. 

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