The new Ofsted Education Inspection Framework came into force on the 2 September 2019 setting out how Ofsted will inspect maintained schools, academies, non-association independent schools, further education and skills provision and registered early years settings in England.
Of particular note to employers and employees are the principles that apply to an Ofsted inspection relating to how schools consider staff well-being and on staff supervision within schools.
- How Ofsted inspectors will be looking at staff well-being under the new framework
In the new inspection framework, there is a new requirement under the Leadership and Management section for leaders to engage effectively with their staff, to be aware and take account of the main pressures on them and be realistic and constructive in the way that they manage staff and their workload. It further provides that leaders will, ‘protect their staff from bullying and harassment’.
Further detail is provided in The School Inspection Handbook which provides the main activities carried out during an inspection as well as the evaluation criteria. Staff workload and well-being is again included in Part 2 as an important factor for inspectors to evaluate, specifically how leaders take this into account ‘whilst also developing and strengthening the quality of the workforce’.
To achieve ‘outstanding’ in this area, leaders should ensure that there is meaningful engagement with staff and issues are identified and dealt with consistently, appropriately and quickly. Significantly, inspectors will also be noting if staff consistently report high levels of support for well-being. To achieve ‘good’, leaders should be aware of and take account of the main pressures on staff and be realistic and constructive in their management of staff.
When considering staff well-being, schools should also be aware of their legal obligations in this area. Under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, employers must provide training to ensure the health and safety at work of employees. The law also entitles staff to rest breaks and screen breaks which employers must abide by. Legal protection is further afforded to employees taking time off sick and employers must consider ways for the employee to return to work before considering dismissal such as working part time. Finally, the statutory right to ask for flexible working is another legal right that employers are required to act on in a ‘reasonable manner’ such as requests relating to job sharing or to reduce working hours.
- How Ofsted inspectors will be looking at staff supervision under the new framework
Within the new Ofsted Inspecting Safeguarding guidance for inspectors, staff supervision is listed as one of the signs of successful safeguarding arrangements within schools. Under this factor, inspectors will be looking at whether staff who work directly and regularly with children and learners, whose safety and welfare are at risk, receive regular supervision and support.
Evidence that inspectors will be looking for in respect of supervision includes whether staff have received the appropriate training and regular information on safeguarding and child protection. Whether they have knowledge of their responsibilities, whether staff are supported to have a good awareness of the signs of a child at risk and that a designated senior member of staff is trained and in charge of safeguarding arrangements.
The inspector will make a judgement about whether the provider has effective safeguarding arrangements or not and this will contribute towards the overall judgment on the effectiveness of leadership and management.
- Implications for schools and their staff
The new Ofsted Inspection Framework has put staff well-being and supervision into greater focus than before. Ensuring steps are taken to improve and maintain both will not only be beneficial to an Ofsted inspection under the new framework, but will also help uphold an employer’s duty of care to their staff to ensure their health, safety and well-being.
Workload is a core issue contributing to both and is very difficult for leaders within schools to manage. It is important to therefore identify priorities to help manage the main pressures on staff. This involves effective engagement and ensuring a culture of open communication.