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Quality Improvement: a new 'risk' based approach for Ofsted inspection & improvement planning

A risk based approach to understand and plan for the quality improvement journey, to secure sustainable quality improvements and improve Ofsted inspection performance - Jan 2021

Further Education and Skills (FES) providers systematically use risk registers to plan and mitigate risks at a 'top' level, often with a focus on protecting financial health or to prepare for changes that are informed by sector horizon scanning (including Covid-19 crisis).

However, using the same tools and approach it is possible to develop a system that uses the same principles to inform the quality improvement journey and preparation for Ofsted inspection.

I have developed a simple tool that can be used to quickly identify the risks, by assessing the probability and impact of 'long standing Areas for Development' impacting judgements and grading made during a full inspection or monitoring visit by Ofsted.

The tool is based on reviewing past inspection reports and the annual organisational self-assessment report (SAR). By using a simple risk matrix, it is possible to identify weaknesses and long-standing areas of development (e.g., English & maths, attendance, progression, etc) and to then prioritise or risk assess them against the likely impact on judgements and grading of each EIF criteria and overall effectiveness by Ofsted. A similar approach can be used to judge the probability of different Ofsted inspection scenarios, which are also incorporated into the plan!

Now here comes the clever part!

I have developed a new approach to quality improvement planning, informed by the data from the risk assessments. I have used this to specifically focus on the 'Quality of Education - 3 I's', although it can be used on any of the Education Inspection Framework (EIF) criteria.

I have developed a PIP (Pre-Inspection Plan), which plans out quality improvement strategies to tackle long standing areas for development. The PIP can be integrated into your existing quality system and is based on transparent communication with stake holders, gathering evidence of baselines, curriculum focus on long standing areas for development, skills audits (staff / learners). Using this data for the effective deployment of coaches / Advanced Practitioners to improve the quality of teaching, learning and assessment at an organisational, departmental, or individual level. Creating pedagogy learning rich centre or on-line platform and the regular review of progress, effectiveness, and impact, using the learner, staff and employer voice. All of which can be personalised to meet an organisation needs and launched to create a culture shift towards the sustainable quality improvement journey. This system also incorporates the use of HOW2's quality improvement system, which can be used to drive, monitor and measure impact.

Running parallel to this, I have developed an IIP (Inspection Implementation Plan), which specifically focusses on mitigating the risks to inspection (overlapping with the priorities in the PIP). The IIP provides training, support and actively prepares staff for inspection process, (e.g., experiencing deep dives, writing curriculum Intent reports, etc). It also incorporates the gathering of a rich evidence base for triangulation during inspection, evidence for writing the SAR and updating quality improvement plans. It facilitates the embedding of the messaging and the narrative of the quality improvement journey with all stakeholders (internal / external), which is essential element during a successful inspection. It overlaps with core business planning and operational cycles, including staff utilisation, curriculum planning and supporting at risk learners.

Finally, I have incorporated a separate action plan, that is triggered following the formal notification by Ofsted of a visit. The plan collates all data, evidence, position papers and scheduling and briefings that are needed for a successful inspection visit!

The system that I have developed is based upon best sector quality practices, results in long-term improvements in KPI's. It improves the quality of remote learning delivery and is learner focussed throughout. It includes embedding the new initiatives from the 'FE White Paper', is cost effective and can be used as a vehicle to deliver strategic plans, to revolutionise your improvement journey and can be delivered remotely!

Anthony Pike is a highly experienced quality & curriculum expert, currently working as an interim senior leader in a large Further Education College in Central London. Founder of PETs (Pike Education & Training Services) - For further information or a free 30 min consultation get in contact via

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