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Ofsted to look at behaviour in schools during inspections

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Ofsted will crack down on bad behaviour in classrooms, with schools being judged on the learning environment they provide for students.

Proposals for its new framework include the introduction of separate judgments about learners’ personal development, and behaviour and attitudes.

Ofsted says this approach will mean behaviour and learners’ attitudes will be given the importance they are due.

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The consultation, published on Wednesday, says: “Creating a sufficiently disciplined environment is a prerequisite to any learning taking place.

“If behaviour is not managed effectively and learners are not instilled with positive attitudes to learning, nothing much will be learned.”

Ofsted’s national director for education, Sean Harford, said: “We want to really update the profile of behaviour.

“It is my personal opinion that if every child behaved in school that the standard would rocket up.”

Referring to a previous report Ofsted published on behaviour, he added: “And what it said effectively was, there aren’t the terrible examples as often as there were if you go back 15-20 years of behaviour.

“The problem now is more one about low level disruption – swinging on chairs, tapping when the teacher is talking, passing notes, whispering, mobile phones, you know getting distracted by electronic devices etc.

“That kind of thing is what has been on the rise, and is the bane of teachers’ lives.”

The separate behaviour judgment will assess whether schools are creating a calm, well-managed environment free from bullying.

While a personal development judgment will look at the work schools and colleges do to build young people’s resilience and confidence in later life – through work such as cadet forces, National Citizenship Service, sports, drama or debating teams.

Nick Brook, deputy general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT), said: “Ofsted already judges schools on behaviour, so we know that the overwhelming majority of schools are orderly places where children learn effectively.

“What parents really want to know is whether their children are happy and safe in school, and making good progress. In nine out of 10 schools, this is the case. In places where it’s not, support rather than sanction is what is needed.”

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Other proposals in the consultation include a revised framework to focus on what children are being taught through the curriculum, rather than an over reliance on performance data covered by a quality of education judgment.

They are also geared towards bringing to an end the culture of teaching to the test, and off-rolling – the removal of students from the school roll.

Launching the consultation in a speech to the Sixth Form Colleges Association, chief inspector of schools Amanda Spielman will say: “The new quality of education judgment will look at how providers are deciding what to teach and why, how well they are doing it and whether it is leading to strong outcomes for young people.

“This will reward those who are ambitious and make sure that young people accumulate rich, well-connected knowledge and develop strong skills using this knowledge.

“This is all about raising true standards. Nothing is more pernicious to these than a culture of curriculum narrowing and teaching to the test.”

The ‘leadership and management’ judgment will remain, and will include looking at how leaders develop teachers and staff, while taking their workload and wellbeing into account.

Education Secretary Damian Hinds said he had been working with Ofsted to develop the new framework Credit: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

All judgments will still be awarded under the current four-point grading scale. Parents will still get the information they value and understand.

Ofsted says shifting the emphasis away from performance data will empower schools to always put the child first and actively discourage negative practices such as off-rolling.

The consultation on how Ofsted inspects schools, early years settings and further education and skills providers is open until April 4,  this year, with a view to changes being implemented in September.

Education Secretary Damian Hinds said:  “We have been working closely with Ofsted as it develops this new framework and will continue to do so to make sure we keep raising standards.

“Since I took this post a year ago I’ve made cutting down unnecessary and bureaucratic workload my top priority. Accountability is vital.

“But we know that perceptions of what Ofsted wants have unintentionally contributed to unnecessary workload – so the fact that this framework addresses this is a hugely positive step forward for all our schools. “