What will the new Ofsted framework expect in relation to assessment, recording and tracking?

Unless otherwise specified, the text below applies from Sept 2019.  The quotes in italics are taken from the new School Inspection handbook, published May 2019.

Inspection will focus more closely on what is taught and how it is taught with test and exam results looked at in that context, not in isolation.  The end of Key Stage results will continue to be used as a starting point in inspections, however the Handbook stresses that judgements will not be based on schools’ internal tracking data.

Assessment retains its importance in learning in the new Framework.  The Quality of Education judgement has three aspects (see Handbook para. 168, p. 41)

  1. Intent (the extent to which the curriculum sets out the knowledge and skills which pupils will gain at each stage)
  2. Implementation- the way that the curriculum is taught and assessed
  3. Impact – the outcomes that pupils achieve.

IMPLEMENTATION – aspects relating to the school’s use of assessment in KS1 to 4

Inspectors will look at how assessment is employed day to day in the classroom:
“Teachers use assessment to check pupils’ understanding in order to inform teaching, and to help pupils embed and use knowledge fluently, develop their understanding, and not simply memorise disconnected facts.”  (Page 44, para. 181) as well as how effectively the curriculum is taught and assessed:
“Teachers check pupils’ understanding effectively, and identify and correct misunderstandings… Teachers use assessment to check pupils’ understanding in order to inform teaching and to help pupils embed and use knowledge fluently and develop their understanding, and not simply memorise disconnected facts.” (Page 44, para.181)

Page 45, paragraphs 183 and 184 warn that:
“…..assessment is too often carried out in a way that creates unnecessary burdens for staff and pupils. It is therefore important that leaders and teachers understand its limitations and avoid misuse and overuse.  
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.”

Data collection

The Handbook (paras. 185, p.45) stresses that data collections should be“proportionate, represent an efficient use of school resources, and are sustainable for staff.”  It echoes the findings of the Teacher Workload Advisory Group’s report, Making data work which “recommends that school leaders should not have more than two or three data collection points a year, and that these should be used to inform clear actions.”  There is also a stipulation that schools choosing to collect more frequently than this should have clear reasoning for how the data is interpreted and used and the time taken to act on the findings.  In addition, whether this is reasonable in terms of workload may be called into question: “If a school’s system for data collection is disproportionate, inefficient or unsustainable for staff, inspectors will reflect this in their reporting on the school.” (Page 45, para. 185 & 186).  

Sources of evidence relating to pupil progress through the curriculum are noted in the next section on Impact.

IMPACT in KS1 to 4

The focus will primarily be on what pupils have learned” (para. 190, p. 46).

Evidence of impact

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

Inspectors will not look at non-statutory internal progress and attainment data on section 5 and section 8 inspections of schools” (Para. 192, p.47).  A footnote clearly indicates that this does not apply to relevant assessment information for pupils with profound or multiple learning difficulties.

Paras. 192-3 also state: “That does not mean that schools cannot use data if they consider it appropriate.  Inspectors will, however, put more focus on the curriculum and less on schools’ generation, analysis and interpretation of data... Inspectors will be interested in the conclusions drawn and actions taken from any internal assessment information, but they will not examine or verify that information first hand.  Inspectors will still use published national performance data (the IDSR- Inspection Dashboard Summary Report) as a starting point on inspection.”

Another footnote clarifies that inspectors will “consider the school’s use of assessment.”   Para. 194 states that “Inspectors will 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.”

Sources of evidence for curriculum impact, apart from the published IDSR and, for secondary schools, published information about pupil destinations, include (para. 195, p. 48) “first-hand evidence of how pupils are doing.”  Inspectors will draw together evidence from interviews with curriculum and subject leaders and teachers, conversations with pupils, work scrutinies and reviews of schemes of work or long-term planning.  These will also be used to establish the state of curriculum implementation.  Inspectors will “discuss with pupils about what they have remembered about the content they have studied.”  In primary schools they will also listen to children read.

Pupil groups

There are references in the text and in the grade descriptors to how well pupils with SEND and disadvantaged pupils are prepared for the next stage in education and future life, for example para.191, bullet 2, page 47, and have the best possible outcomes.  There are no direct references to other groups.



The Early Years curriculum in schools is also judged on intent, implementation and impact. In terms of achievement, the Handbook states that there is a focus on progress from starting points and readiness for the next stage of education, and on personal, social and emotional development.  In addition, it states that inspectors will “evaluate the impact that the quality of education has on children, particularly the most disadvantaged and those with SEND.” (para. 280, p. 77).  The section applies equally to provision for pupils aged two and three if they are in schools, with additional criteria (para. 285, pp.78-79).


As with older pupils, inspectors will look at end of Key Stage data, i.e. the proportions reaching a good level of development over time. However, advice to inspectors directs them to“…get beyond the data as quickly as possible to ascertain how well the curriculum is meeting children’s needs.  This will be evident in how well children know and remember more. Inspectors need to make careful inferences about children’s current progress by drawing together evidence from a range of sources.” (para. 279, p. 77).

The grade descriptions for “good” give more detail on implementation and impact.

Intent (para. 285, pp. 79-80) refers to the curriculumas characterised by being “ambitious and designed to give children, particularly the most disadvantaged, the knowledge, self-belief and cultural capital they need to succeed in life”.  Vocabulary, phonics (in Reception) and Reading are mentioned specifically and Mathematics is also highlighted in the implementation section.

Implementation(para. 285, pp. 80-81) includes the expectation that staff “communicate well to check children’s understanding, identify misconceptions and provide clear explanations to improve their learning. In so doing, they respond and adapt their teaching as necessary”.

A footnote to this section gives further expectations for the use of assessment: “Integral to teaching is how practitioners assess what children know, understand and can do, as well as taking account of their interests and dispositions to learn (characteristics of effective learning), and how practitioners use this information to plan children’s next steps in learning and to monitor their progress.”   A further criterion on p. 80 refers directly to the responsibility of leaders to “...understand the limitations of assessment and avoid unnecessary burdens on staff or children”.

There is mention of providing information for parents about progress and how to support learning at home.

The section on Impact refers to all seven areas of learning as well as attitudes and resilience.  One factor is an expectation that pupils are ready for the next stage of education and that, by the end of Reception, “children achieve well, particularly those children with lower starting points”. (para. 285, p. 81). “Most children achieve the early learning goals, particularly in mathematics and literacy”.

Gill Jones, Ofsted's Early Education Deputy Director has summarised how Ofsted will judge the curriculum and quality of education being provided for children in the Early Years:

Our inspectors will consider:

  • how well staff watch, listen and respond to children;
  • how well staff read aloud and tell stories to children;
  • how well staff support children to recognise and respond to their own physical needs;
  • how well staff enable children to explore and solve problems;
  • how they support children to express their thoughtsand use new words.

Much stays the same; evolution, not revolution, is our mantra.  The EYFS will still be the curriculum framework (educational programmes) and we intend to keep our definition of teaching.  If you are already delivering the EYFS well, through a rounded curriculum for early years children, you have nothing to fear from the new framework.

Gill Jones writing in Nursery World, January 2019


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