Evidence from academies inspected under the new framework is that pressure will stem from previous year 11 results in English, maths (and possibly science) or a specialist subject which are significantly lower than national.

Since January there has been a bigger focus on looking at progress over time, with schools needing to demonstrate that individual students and groups (boy, girl FSM etc.) in maths and English in all current years were progressing at least in line with national averages – and this needs to be triangulated with quality of teaching, quality of learning, progress with that class over time, progress seen in lessons, progress seen in written work (with specific student response to formative marking to demonstrate progress in learning), student learning behaviour, and student survey and interview data (ie that maths and English were enjoyable, well taught and that progress was being made).  Ideally, data should show accelerated progress (from KS2 data) for lower attaining or under-achieving individuals or groups.

There also seems to be more of a focus on literacy across the school, safeguarding (interviews with safeguarding governor for example),  low level disruption in lessons and the parents questionnaire (ie: any significant deviations from the ‘normal’ parameters in Ofsted’s database).

Where SEND or vulnerable students are concerned there seems to be an in depth look at the likes of progress, attendance, detentions, exclusions, school clubs, case studies, and 1:1 interviews with the students themselves.

We had a full section 5 inspection in the first week of December, exactly a year after our section 8, with an HMI who quite openly said she was inspecting us “to some extent” under the new framework.  Our experience is relevant to inspections starting from January 2012.

We’ve been open just under 2 years and a term, but there was no allowance made for the progress made in that time (which in section 8 terms was ‘outstanding progress’).   They didn’t have our 2011 RAISE data, which was published the week after the inspection.  The demise of section 8 monitoring visits for starter academies means that the opportunity to have credit reflected for progress since taking over from the predecessor school is also diminished.  This position is linked into the argument that there are ‘no excuses for failure’ – and that the only comparisons worth their salt are comparisons on absolute attainment against national averages.

Our Maths results were 45% A*-C , which is well below national average (and so assumed sig minus), and although up from what was inherited at 32%, is clearly not good enough.   Other headline data – English 72 (from 52 in 2009), 5A*-C(EM) 40 (from 29), 5A*-C 97 (from 43) and VA 1027 (from 984).  On that basis alone, HMI were adamant that you could be straight into a category for a major weakness in a key subject – and our maximum grade overall was unlikely to be  higher than a 3.  To do better than that, a defence would need robust data to demonstrate that individual students and groups (boy, girl FSM etc.) in Maths in all current years were progressing at least in line with national averages – and this would need to be triangulated with quality of teaching, progress with that class over time, progress seen in lessons, progress seen in written work (with specific student response to formative marking to demonstrate progress in learning), student learning behaviour, and student survey and interview data (ie that Maths was enjoyable, well taught and that progress was being made).  Dangerous other conclusions drawn on Maths results alone centred on the argument that if all students hadn’t made adequate progress, then by default we were letting down FSM and SEN, even though they were no worse off than the rest of the year – and had done really well in English.

Our inspection was the day after the national strike – so HMI’s preparation and lack of a decent PIB was not helped by them being on strike for the day too.  The PIB seemed to be disappointingly influenced by national policy questions, without reference to evidence, such as ‘is the curriculum stretching the more able?’ – with lines of enquiry which ended up being about the EBacc and GCSE vs BTEC.  In our year 9 curriculum students can study GCSE English, Maths,  3 sciences, 2 languages, geography or history and AS philosophy & ethics, which you would think would keep even Nick Gibb happy – but it carried no weight, as our yr11 curriculum doesn’t look like that.

Wellington Academy OFSTED report Dec 2011