Ofsted and assessment

August 2018

What do inspectors want to see?

Ofsted ensures accountability in the education system through its independent and impartial inspection of schools. In what can feel like an ever-changing education landscape, there exist some common misconceptions around what inspectors are seeking to evaluate during the inspection process. This is particularly true within the area of pupil assessment.

In a blog post earlier this year, Sean Harford, National Director for Education at Ofsted, set out to dispel a number of myths around what schools need to demonstrate in terms of assessment. Above all, his message was clear: ‘inspectors are looking to see that a school’s assessment system supports the pupils’ journeys through the curriculum’, whatever system that may be.

With this in mind, there are some key things for schools to consider in terms of their assessment processes:

  1. Are assessments relevant? Namely, do they enable you to understand how well pupils are performing against the curriculum studied, at the particular point that pupils are at within that curriculum?
  2. Do assessments provide meaningful insights? In other words, does the data you collect give you information that helps inform how you support pupil learning?
  3. Are you using assessment data effectively? Critically, are you actioning the insights that assessments provide in order to improve pupil attainment?

As Sean Harford explains, ‘the key reason for all assessment is to ensure that teaching and learning are working well and that children are benefiting from a deep and rich education’. Ultimately, it’s not about the type of system schools use, it’s about how assessment is used to enhance pupil progress, deepen knowledge, promote understanding and develop skills.

Read the full blog post here.

For more on the effective use of assessment, head over to the NFER Assessment Hub where you'll find a host of free guidance and resources. You can also sign up to our monthly assessment newsletter for exclusive assessment-related content delivered direct to your inbox.