Spotlight: Ofsted downgrades 80% of 'outstanding' schools
- 29th November 2022
- Hannah Osborne
- Return to Insights
Many in the education world were left shocked last week when Ofsted announced that a huge 80% ‘outstanding’ schools had their status downgraded.
The news comes after Ofsted inspection data has been made available for the first time, following the watchdog’s decision to remove the ‘outstanding’ schools’ exemption (as highlighted in iweek.co.uk) from inspection back in 2019.
The exemption rule was initially sanctioned over a decade ago by former education secretary Michael Gove, in order to ‘free outstanding schools from the burden’ of inspections. It has, however, resulted in over a thousand schools avoiding the process for over ten years, Ofsted reports.
Ofsted’s chief inspector Amanda Spielman admitted last week that "the numbers (of outstanding schools) had got very high, uncomfortably high." With a fifth of schools dropping two grades or more, she went on to say that “removing a school from scrutiny does not make it better”.
Parent engagement and Ofsted
With no schools now immune from routine inspections, the focus on Ofsted visits has never been greater. And whilst in-class learning and teaching spearheads the education inspection framework, the process also extends outside the classroom, with Ofsted reviewing how well “leaders engage effectively with learners and others in their community, including – where relevant – parents, carers, employers and local services.”
In fact, Ofsted deemed parent engagement an important enough factor in a child’s education to commission a Survey Report of 47 schools in 2011, evaluating ‘how effectively schools develop the partnership between parents and schools’.
The survey results consistently found a link between a parent or carer’s involvement in their child’s school life, and that student’s educational outcome. In summary, the report highlighted:
- In the best cases seen, joint working between the home and the school led to much better outcomes for pupils; in particular, this helped pupils with special educational needs and/or disabilities, those with low attendance or who were potentially vulnerable in other ways.
- All the schools visited were using, or experimenting with, new technology in their communications with parents. Such work complemented more traditional methods such as face-to-face meetings and paper-based communication.
- In the best practice, complaints were used as an opportunity to improve services and understand better the wishes and views of parents. These schools had clear, straightforward complaints procedures that were well known to staff and parents.
- In the few cases seen where the schools said that parents had contributed or initiated ideas for strategic improvement, and these ideas had been taken forward, they had been successful.
How to improve parent engagement in your school
The report highlights that for all schools, but SEN and low attendance schools in particular, parent engagement plays a key part in a successful education. With this in mind, what changes can your school make, to improve relationships and communications with your parent community?
Good news makes us all feel good, it’s human nature. It’s therefore a no-brainer to ensure you share successes with your parents on a regular basis. Invite them to special assemblies, make it the headline in parents evenings, and impart good news in your newsletters. Your parents will feel happily involved, and your students will show a growing sense of pride in school life.
2. Include minority parent groups
On a national level, the number of SEND and EAL students is growing. When they’re combined, these groups will therefore make up a significant proportion of your parent community, so it’s important to address their specific needs. For ideas on how to improve engagement with these communities, check out the SEND and EAL articles in our insights section.
3. Keep school communication simple and streamlined
According to mindsea.com we have an average of 80+ apps on our phone. For schools, this means competing ever more with a parent’s reducing attention span. It’s therefore crucial to ensure you communicate all your messages in a consistent and easy-to-consume way.
This is where a tool like Schoolzine’s parent engagement platform can help. A central hub for your app, website, newsletter and parents evening bookings; sharing important information at the right time has never been easier.