Is Ofsted delivering the CEIAG goods: 2015 reup

Back in the Autumn of 2013 the inclusion of monitoring the CEIAG statutory duty on schools was newly part of Section 5 Ofsted inspections and I posted about what this was looking like in those first early reports from that academic year. It was clear even from that small sample size that inspectors were taking their time to incorporate the then new requirement into their inspection process and the resulting reports showed an uneven mention of CEIAG provision.

Since then careers has continued to be part of the annually revised Ofsted inspection process. Updates for inspectors came ready for the start of the 2014 academic year and then the 2015 academic year. The careers update this year though, while comprehensive in its wording, needed to be placed in the wider context of the changes to the common inspection framework and the schools inspection handbook.

These changes meant that:

Schools holding an OUTSTANDING rating: are exempt from full Section 5 inspections and will only trigger a shorter, Section 8 inspection if results dip, significant complaints are made from stakeholders, a visit on a thematic survey raises concerns or safeguarding issues are raised.

Schools holding a GOOD rating: Will receive a shorter Section 8 inspection once every 3 years. If the result of this visit is a recommendation to remain GOOD, the school continues to do so. If the Section 8 inspection offers the potential for the school to move to OUTSTANDING or drop to REQUIRES IMPROVEMENT or INADEQUATE then a larger team of inspectors will arrive and carry out a full Section 5 inspection usually within 48 hours.

Schools holding a REQUIRES IMPROVEMENT rating: Will receive another Section 8 monitoring inspection in the same term and, if the rating remains, another Section 5 inspection within two years.

Schools holding a INADEQUATE rating: A whole raft of measures come into play including the Local Authority, further inspection visits and academisation or sponsor change. The Education & Adoption bill is currently travelling through the Houses towards Royal Ascent and will soon narrow the options here.

Section 8 inspections are shorter, more focused visits, usually with less inspectors present at the school. The specific handbook for these visits details the areas inspectors should cover. Inspecting careers provision isn’t mandated or mentioned.

What does this mean?

That Ofsted will spend much less time focusing on schools not causing concern. In fact, budget cuts (Ofsted strategic plan 2014-2016 document details a near £60m cut from 2010 to 2016 page 8) will mean less inspections in total. In 2012/13 they inspected 1334 secondary schools while 2013/14 saw 1048 secondary schools visited.

Using the “Find an inspection report” by date on the Ofsted website the number of Secondary school inspection reports published:

Between 1st September 2013 – 31st October 2013 = 105

Between 1st September 2014 – 31st October 2014 = 133

Between 1st September 2015 – 31st October 2015 = 81

Of those 81 published reports so far this year, many are Section 8 reports with no mention of careers (examples here, here and here). There do continue to be full Section 5 reports as well that do mention careers provision. Some examples:

1. School: Droylsden Academy

Inspection Date: 1/10/2015

http://reports.ofsted.gov.uk/inspection-reports/find-inspection-report/provider/ELS/135864

Performance table:

http://www.education.gov.uk/cgi-bin/schools/performance/school.pl?urn=135864

Specific mention of Careers/CEIAG/Destinations:

Careers education is largely focused on Key Stage 4 and the transition to college or employment. The academy is building a careers education from Year 7 onwards as part of the drive for greater aspirations and the development of work-related skills and aptitudes.

2. School: Barnsley Academy

Inspection Date: 22/09/2015

http://reports.ofsted.gov.uk/inspection-reports/find-inspection-report/provider/ELS/131749

Performance table:

http://www.education.gov.uk/cgi-bin/schools/performance/school.pl?urn=131749

Specific mention of Careers/CEIAG/Destinations:

They appreciate the useful information from careers lessons and interviews which help them to reflect on their future education, training or employment prospects.

and for the Sixth Form:

While some students do undertake work experience relevant to their needs, and impartial careers guidance enables most students to develop realistic plans for the future, the overall range of enrichment activities, visits and visitors is too narrow

3. School: Salford City Academy

Inspection Date: 22/09/2015

http://reports.ofsted.gov.uk/inspection-reports/find-inspection-report/provider/ELS/135071

Performance table:

http://www.education.gov.uk/cgi-bin/schools/performance/school.pl?urn=135071

Specific mention of Careers/CEIAG/Destinations:

The academy provides its students with good careers guidance and advice that helps them to make informed choices about their next steps.

Good careers advice is provided and this is reflected in the number of students gaining university places and in the number of those who also gain employment or training. Advice and guidance processes for students making study choices for GCSE are very thorough and lead to very few pathway changes. The academy is committed to developing students’ understanding of the world of work. All students are encouraged to take part in quality work experience during Year 12. Commitment to work experience is strong and runs alongside well-structured impartial careers advice to support learners’ next steps.

4. School: Trinity Academy

Inspection Date: 22/09/2015

http://reports.ofsted.gov.uk/inspection-reports/find-inspection-report/provider/ELS/135007

Performance table:

http://www.education.gov.uk/cgi-bin/schools/performance/school.pl?urn=135007

Specific mention of Careers/CEIAG/Destinations:

There is a full programme of careers guidance from Year 7 which builds incrementally as students get older. Students are guided in their choice of subjects and career choices, which includes a number of visiting speakers from local and national firms and professions. However, some students in Key Stages 3 and 4 have mixed views regarding the quality of careers guidance provided. Leaders recognise the need to evaluate this provision against student outcomes.

And in the Sixth Form:

Leaders ensure that all students benefit from external and impartial careers advice so they can make well-informed choices. They provide effective guidance to students entering the sixth form and as they prepare for the next steps in education, training or employment when they leave. As a result, no student leaves without a secure pathway for the future. An increasing number of students take up study places at university, many at the top universities in the country.

5. School: Djanogly City Academy

Inspection Date: 22/09/2015

http://reports.ofsted.gov.uk/inspection-reports/find-inspection-report/provider/ELS/134253

Performance table:

http://www.education.gov.uk/cgi-bin/schools/performance/school.pl?urn=134253

Specific mention of Careers/CEIAG/Destinations:

Careers professionals and teachers guide students to make appropriate course choices well. All students last year accepted places to follow appropriate courses at the academy or post-16 colleges and schools. The course choices were well suited to the aptitudes and aspirations of the students. The academy takes its responsibility seriously to ensure that students make informed and appropriate choices for the next stage of their education.

But it’s worth noting that all 5 of those schools were rated as INADEQUATE at their previous inspections. More and more schools are being judged as OUTSTANDING or GOOD, the tables at Watchsted tell us 74.5% of England’s 3117 secondary schools are now in either of those two categories. That means that, as a matter of course, only 25.5% of secondary schools will be monitored for their careers provision. For the schools in those top two categories it will be dependant on the processes outlined above.

Everyone concerned with CEIAG in schools seems to agree that Ofsted has a role to play in the quality assurance process. Just last week, Garry Forrest of the British Chambers of Commerce wrote

Inspection of schools is important, so I’m pleased that Ofsted is increasing its focus on this area in the new Common Inspection Framework.

Even Sir Michael recently said

What’s really important for inspections of secondary schools is that HMI ask questions about post-16 provision, whether schools and head teachers of secondary schools are providing youngsters with all the information that they need to make good choices and not restricting that information to get youngsters into their own sixth form.”

What seems to have less awareness though is that Ofsted is changing year on year. The pressure on the Inspectorate to provide authoritative verdicts on a greater range of schools, FE, early years and social care provision is only increasing (the focus on British values as a school example) while their financial capabilities to conduct this work are tightening. Their visits to OUTSTANDING and GOOD schools will be much more infrequent and on a smaller scale. As Ofsted themselves state in the Common Inspection Framework (para 19) “Ofsted is committed to inspecting in a proportionate way so that resources are focused where they are needed most.” This this will mean that this academic year, the instances of an Ofsted inspector being in a secondary school and asking the question, “So, what do you do for your careers work?” are likely to be much fewer than the past two years.

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