Ofsted explains its new way of reporting on SEND provision in education

with Nick Whittaker, Specialist Adviser, SEND, Ofsted

Ofsted explains its new way of reporting 
on SEND provision in education

In one of my roles, I work alongside other SEND representatives on Ofsted's SEND Stakeholder Advisory Group. As I spend a lot of time hearing what our readers think and talking to them via our Facebook page, our group, and social media generally, I am able to represent the parental viewpoint and try do what I can to help improve the experiences of disabled children, young people and their families.

The lead of that advisory group is Ofsted's Specialist Adviser for SEND, Nick Whittaker. Just before the election was announced, he sent me an article about how their new inspection framework will work for reporting on SEND in schools. Because of election rules, we weren't able to publish it immediately, then we had to bring you our election response and bam! then it was Christmas!

So, today, a little delayed, here it is. If you want to comment, please consider leaving it here and not just on Facebook - it's a great way to get your voice heard.

A new way of reporting on SEND by Nick Whittaker, Ofsted Specialist Adviser

We’ve been spending a lot of time talking and writing about our new framework recently and this week, the first crop of inspection reports has been published. It’s an exciting time when our Ofsted team, in which almost everyone has been involved in one way or another, sees the results of our work. 

Many parents responded to our consultation on the new framework. We read and weighed up every comment, so thank you to you if you contributed. 

Nick Whittaker, Ofsted
Nick Whittaker, Ofsted Specialist Adviser, SEND

Here at Ofsted, we believe that we’ve improved the way we inspect schools, early years settings, further education colleges, and independent schools. We’ve made some important improvements. Inspectors will be looking in greater depth at the substance of education: the curriculum. They’ll be spending less time looking at data. They’ll be thinking about teacher workload. But for you, perhaps, one of the most important shifts: they’ll be thinking more about pupils with special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND). 

Reports – which are also shorter, simpler, clearer and more accessible – say whether pupils with SEND can make the most of the curriculum they are offered.  Questions inspectors ask of senior leaders, staff and pupils include,

  • Are pupils given the support they need?
  • Are teachers trained to help them?
  • Do senior leaders have the same level of ambition for all pupils?
  • Is the school’s curriculum responsive to their different needs, starting points and aspirations for the future? 

All important questions. 

Outstanding schools must be inclusive schools

We believe the new style of reporting makes it easier for you as parents or carers to understand how it feels to be a child in the school. What is the school’s ethos? What does it do well, and what does it need to do better? 

Let me share an excerpt from one of the reports with you. I think, if I worked at this school, or was the parent of a child at this school, I’d be proud to read this:

‘At the heart of the school is the belief that everyone is included. This means that all pupils, and particularly pupils with special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND), learn and enjoy school together. For example, in the whole-school ‘sign and sing’ assemblies, pupils learn sign language. Pupils are thoughtful, kind and respectful.’

As I’ve said before, no school can be outstanding if it’s not inclusive. The new framework makes this clearer than ever. 

Another positive change is that we’ve also included a question about pupils with SEND in our updated Ofsted Parent View survey. This will give you a chance to tell us how you think your child’s school is doing in its SEND provision. Inspectors find these surveys very useful, so please do complete one at any time, not just during inspection.  

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Tania Tirraoro

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