*This post is for information purposes and based on my personal views.
Education Inspection Framework
Ofsted is the Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills for the United Kingdom government.
On 16th January, Ofsted published their proposals for changes to the Education Inspection Framework, which will take effect from September 2019.
Ofsted have to ensure that through their inspections, the educational institutions that they assess meet the legal requirements of The Equality Act 2010, making reasonable adjustments for people with disabilities and that they are legally protecting them from discrimination. Therefore, it is always good practice for Ofsted to reassess how they go about their inspection process, addressing issues with their current inspection framework and addressing the broader concerns, one is inclusive education.
Draft Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Statement
The draft Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Statement covers disability, race, religion and belief and sex. For the purpose of this blog, I will only be focusing on disability.
Two areas of concern identified in the draft statement are the narrowing of the curriculum and not having equal access to high-quality education. Some learners are not being offered a broader curriculum because the main focus of performance measures is on tests and exams results. It then becomes a numbers game. Quantitative data is used to measure progress and is used because it is more efficient; however, using this research method solely does not give you an overall scope on the reality on what’s going on or the external factors that impact on a person’s education.
At the end of every academic year, I receive a school report, which measures how my son is achieving compared to the expected standard for that year group. No shock to me, my son’s score always shows that he is underachieving for his age. I see this report more of a formality, as schools have to provide it, but his school has no concerns as they know that he has a disability and is making a lot of progress. They do not box him in. I’d also like to highlight that when he was in Year 2, he did not sit his SATs as it would have just caused him stress for the purpose of what?
Top of the League Table
The statement brings focus on nurseries being deterred from taking on children with SEND and for older students, they are not accessing further education or do not complete their course. It saddens me that some parents of low attaining children/young people are feeling pressured and that we are now in that mentality of focusing on numbers only, seeing which school is at the top of the league table. Imagine feeling like your child cannot access high-quality education as they may impact on the school’s reputation because they cannot achieve the expected grades due to their disability, which is no fault of their own.
It is handy to have something to compare each school with, but you have to take into consideration that some schools may rank lower because they are accepting a higher proportion of learners with SEND (not to say that everyone with SEND are low academic achievers) and are aware that by doing this may put them at a perceived disadvantage. If anything, these schools should be praised, and this just shows me that they are more accepting and have an appreciation for diversity.
When choosing a school for your child, it really does go beyond numbers. You have to look at the school’s ethos, their safeguarding policy, their SEND policy and how in practice, they work to make a more inclusive environment.
Inclusion, personal development, and my son’s happiness are way more important to me than where he is at compared to others. My son is included in school assemblies, the teachers take the time out to understand him and include him with the decision-making for his learning curriculum.
Teaching and education are more than just being confined within an educational institution, it is having a moral outlook and reflecting on how inclusive teaching practices can help a person be more included within society. It starts with teaching younger children within the Early Years Framework by which they do include learning of understanding the world and understanding that the world is not just confined to academic capabilities.
Narrowing of the curriculum as highlighted in the statement can result in unlawful discrimination. More choice needs to be offered, and that is what the proposed changes to the inspection framework aim to achieve. Yes, not everyone is academic, but this does not mean that they do not have any skills to offer
Quality of Education
Qualitative data is a process that describes the figures and the meaning behind them, so it is always beneficial to include this to provide validity and a more in-depth understanding of the outcomes.
Ofsted’s proposed key judgment areas for all education will focus on the quality of education, behaviour and attitudes, personal development and leadership and management. That way their inspections will extend beyond to just academic learning. I see this being a step in the right direction as personally, I do not want to feel like as I’m looking at the prospects of secondary school, I am questioning myself on how can my son fit into this education system? The question should really be, how can educational providers offer an inclusive environment that embraces my son’s way of learning? Only then can I be confident that my son will be able to achieve his goals in life. (may it be non-academic)