Currently, what will Ofsted expect in relation to assessment, recording and tracking?

Unless otherwise specified, the text below applies until Sept 2019. The quotes in italics are taken from the School Inspection Handbook, updated September 2018: 

There will be a new Ofsted framework in place from September 2019, with a consultation from January 2019. It is proposed that inspection will be rebalanced to focus more closely at what is taught and how it is taught with test and exam results looked at in that context, not in isolation.  Assessment retains its importance in learning in the proposed new Framework; HMCI Amanda Spielman describes the proposed ‘quality of education’ judgement as bringing together the “essential ingredients of education: the curriculum: the teaching and assessment that provides the feedback loop and the resulting outcomes.”  However, the end of Key Stage results will still be used as a starting point in inspections.  See the draft handbook 

The importance of current progress

The section in the 2018-19 Handbook on Outcomes for pupils emphasises the importance of progress in making judgements about a school’s effectiveness, especially that of pupils currently in the school:

“In judging achievement, inspectors will give most weight to pupils’ progress.  They will take account of pupils’ starting points in terms of their prior attainment and age when evaluating progress.  Within this, they will give most weight to the progress of pupils currently in the school, taking account of how this compares with the progress of recent cohorts, where there are any. Inspectors will consider the progress of pupils in allyear groups, not just those who have taken or are about to take examinations or national tests.  As part of pupils’ progress, inspectors will consider the growth in pupils’ security, breadth and depth of knowledge, understanding and skills.”  (Page 58, Para. 187).

As this paragraph states, progress is defined in broad terms.

Inspectors are reminded (Page 59, para.190) that this is still a period of transition in recording progress:

When considering the school’s records for the progress of current pupils, inspectors will recognise that schools are at different points in their move towards adopting a system of assessment without national curriculum levels”

Judging progress

The current Framework states:“Inspectors will gather evidence about the progress of current pupils through:

  • observations in lessons
  • discussions with pupils about their understanding of things they have been learning about
  • scrutiny of pupils’ acquisition of knowledge, understanding and skills over time as shown in their work, including that in their books
  • the school’s own information, taking account of the quality and rigour of the assessment on which it is based.” (Page 58 – 59, para. 188) 

Inspectors will judge whether:

  • pupils are making good progress towards meeting or exceeding the expected attainment for their age, as set out in the school’s own curriculum and assessment policies
  • pupils are set challenging goals, given their starting points, and are making good progress towards meeting or exceeding these
  • pupils are gaining and consolidating knowledge, understanding and skills
  • pupils, including the most able, do work that deepens their knowledge, understanding and skills, rather than simply undertaking more work of the same difficulty or going on to study different content.” (Page 59, para. 191)

The points on assessment and achievement below are echoed in the sections on the quality of teaching and on leadership and management:

a. the emphasis on progress of pupil groupsespecially disadvantaged pupils (those in receipt of pupil premium) and other groups including the more able, those with low starting points and those with SEN. There are warnings about using data for very small groups. There is a focus on the impact of support provided by the school. For example:

 “For current pupils, inspectors will consider the impact of what a school is doing to reduce any differences in progress and attainment between disadvantaged and other pupils with the same starting points. Where performance information is limited due to small group size, inspectors should gather a wide range of other evidence to ensure the school is providing effectively for disadvantaged pupils, including reviewing pupils’ work, and talking to pupils and teachers”.(Page 59, Para 193)

b. the importance of a school assessment policyand a consistent whole-school, rigorous approach which makes effective use of assessment, as well as of moderation.

“In evaluating the accuracy and impact of assessment, inspectors will consider how well:

  • teachers use any assessment for establishing pupils’ starting points, teacher assessment and testing to modify teaching so that pupils achieve their potential by the end of a year or key stage; inspectors should note that Ofsted does not expect to see any particular system of assessment in place
  • assessment draws on a range of evidence of what pupils know, understand and can do across the curriculum
  • teachers make consistent judgements about pupils’ progress and attainment, for example within a subject, across a year group and between year groups”. (Page 50, 170)

c. the use of assessment to raise standardsthrough reviewing progress and adjusting planning:

Assessment should be used to ensure that the level of challenge is appropriate. Ofsted will also look at “how well teachers’ feedback, written and oral, is used by pupils to improve their knowledge, understanding and skills.” (Page 50, para. 169)

“Inspectors will evaluate the extent to which… assessment information is used to plan appropriate teaching and learning strategies, including to identify pupils who are falling behind in their learning or who need additional support, enabling pupils to make good progress and achieve well” (Page 49, para 167)

“In evaluating the accuracy and impact of assessment, inspectors will consider how well:

  • (as noted earlier)teachers use any assessment for establishing pupils’ starting points, teacher assessment and testing to modify teaching so that pupils achieve their potential by the end of a year or key stage; inspectors should note that Ofsted does not expect to see any particular system of assessment in place
  • assessment draws on a range of evidence of what pupils know, understand and can do across the curriculum”(Page 50, 170)
  • “Ofsted recognises that marking and feedback to pupils, both written and oral, are important aspects of assessment. However, Ofsted does not expect to see any specific frequency, type or volume of marking and feedback; these are for the school to decide through its assessment policy. Marking and feedback should be consistent with that policy, which may cater for different subjects and different age groups of pupils in different ways, in order to be effective and efficient in promoting learning. (Page 13, para. 31)
  • While inspectors will consider how written and oral feedback is used to promote learning, Ofsted does not expect to see any written record of oral feedback provided to pupils by teachers.” (Page 14, para 31)

d. As noted earlier, it is expected that pupils are set challenging goals based on prior attainment and are making good progress towards them. (Page 59, para. 191)  These will be based on the school’s assessment system rather than targeting progress scores.

“Ofsted does not require schools to predict their attainment and progress scores. It is impossible to predict attainment and progress as examination and test results for each cohort are compared nationally and this cannot be done until after the examinations or tests”. (Page 15, Para 31)

e. There is also an expectation that evidence from other subjects should be used if appropriate for assessing progress in literacy and mathematics; this will show whether learning is embedded.

The draft Handbook for the proposed new Framework also emphasises the role of assessment in learning, but stresses that judgements will not be based on schools’ internal tracking data.

There is no separate section on Outcomes for Pupils as in the current framework; the use of assessment and impact are part of the judgement on the Quality of Education.  

  • “teachers use assessment to check pupils’ understanding in order to inform teaching
  • teachers use assessment to help pupils embed and use knowledge fluently, develop their understanding, and not simply memorise disconnected facts.” (Page 44, para. 168)

“Inspectors will therefore evaluate how assessment is used in the school to support the teaching of the curriculum, but not substantially increase teachers’ workloads by necessitating too much one-to-one teaching or overly demanding programmes that are almost impossible to deliver without lowering expectations of some pupils”.(Page 44, para.171)

Inspectors will not use schools’ internal assessment data as evidence (in bold print in the draft Handbook):

“While they will consider the school’s use of assessment (see Pages 44 – 45, paras 170 to 173), inspectors will not consider schools’ internal assessment data during an inspection. Rather, they will want to use the official IDSR (Inspection Dashboard Summary Report)as the starting point and get to see at first hand the quality of education as experienced by pupils and understand how well leaders know what it is like to be a pupil at the school…”(Page 46, para.178)

“Inspectors will, however, ask schools to explain why they have decided to collect whatever assessment data they collect, what they are drawing from their data and how that informs their curriculum and teaching”. (Page 47, para.179)

Return to Assessment without levels: Assessment in the context of the National Curriculum