Ofsted: Do they listen to constructive feedback about SEND?

Ofsted SEND image

Many school staff have anxiety about both Ofsted and SEND.

Ofsted anxiety is understandable. If you work in a school that is judged inadequate or requiring improvement, making the changes takes time. Staff can be anxious about the impact of a visit before a school has improved enough to get a good grade.

In good or outstanding schools, staff can worry about losing the current grade. They may be anxious to avoid feeling like they’ve let their pupils, colleagues and school down during an inspection.

One effect of this is that stories that reinforce Ofsted anxiety can spread quickly.

So, it’s good to hear another side – when things go well…

Ofsted published a draft handbook in early 2019. They trialled it in schools and also ran a consultation on it.

This draft handbook indicated that pupils who have sensory impairments (e.g. hearing impairment, visual impairment) have equal starting points to their peers who do not have special educational needs or disabilities (SEND).

This is sometimes true. But it’s often untrue.

For example, if a child’s hearing impairment isn’t spotted early, they might miss out hearing language, words and sounds in their pre-school years. This can hinder their language development, social skills and, at times, behaviour. This can mean that they start school at lower starting points than children with no SEND.

9000Lives engaged with Ofsted to recognise this in the final handbook. Ofsted listened. Ofsted made all the changes we advised.

This means that the handbook, used by inspectors, now acknowledges that sensory impairment can impact on children’s starting points.*

It’s fair to say this isn’t a massive difference. This doesn’t change the world. It might not change the inspection result for your school. But, if it makes a difference to one school or one child, then this job well done!

More info

* Inspection Handbook can be found at https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/843108/School_inspection_handbook_-_section_5.pdf
The key sections are on page 91-92.

To ask questions or speak to us about anything in this article get in touch.

  • Aaron King, Director

    With over 20 years experience of working with children & young people in both mainstream and SEND settings, Aaron King is the driving force behind 9000lives.

    Aaron has written for the TES, including in the Leadership & Governance sections. He has also been a school governor for around 15 years.

  • Aaron King

    Aaron King Director

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