The new Ofsted Framework for 2019 is here, with a shift towards what curriculum’s look like and how they are taught, Kevin Gillard writes on how AoC’s in-house training could help you and your staff prepare for the changes.
Having spent most of August undertaking my own deep dive into the new inspection framework and handbook undertaking a research and development project, my kids are neglected and I’m exhausted, but I know more than I did at the start!
To ensure that the final training package was fit for purpose we looked at what colleges might need to build capacity, confidence and ability in staff to meet the demands of the new inspection approach. The initial project involved eight colleges and from the offset it was clear that senior staff’s grasp of the new requirements was good. They had seen and understood what has been published and begun to integrate it into their plans and strategies.
During the project, I spoke to six college principals, over 25 senior staff in more than 25 hours of discussion. Almost all staff felt that there was a need for support that builds confidence in staff who will be the mini nominees in the new approach, so that they can respond to the questions that will be asked of them.
During the visits, we looked at what we know and has been published, what had been learned from some of the pilot inspections and discussed what might be best to support the sector and make this training as effective as possible.
While senior staff were confident with their knowledge, staff at more junior levels, perhaps not surprisingly, had a lesser grasp of the expectations that they will face. This work will support those staff and build knowledge of, and confidence and capacity in the new framework, its methodology and lines of enquiry.
Several leaders expressed concern about the introduction of the new framework and the timescales particularly in the light of the lack of research evidence from FE and the need to train staff. So, we are developing project training materials around the judgements that will be made about colleges during inspection to support those staff; in doing so some interesting questions, insights and perhaps challenges emerge.
One challenge is the thinking around curriculum and the understanding of what curriculum is in colleges. The quality of education is a key judgement that is based on the three I’s of curriculum. Intent, implementation and impact. Questions arise about what curriculum means in the college context. In schools, it is a variety of key stages delivering a national curriculum in core and foundation subjects.
Curriculum is different in FE and the challenge will be to show the specialist nature of and for its curriculum at all levels. How we articulate and describe curriculum is important because of its central nature in the new Education Inspection Framework.
Some of Ofsted’s own research suggested that leaders were ‘floored’ by questions about curriculum. Some leaders saw it as little more than the timetable. While this research was in schools, it is likely to be the case in colleges as well where no training has been provided.
AoC is launching support for colleges to address these challenges. Working with Ofsted and a number of principals, they have developed an in-house training package to build capability for the new framework across your organisation.