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    The new OFSTED Framework 2019 and the links to mental health in schools – updated October 2019

    Here is a brief guide to the new OFSTED framework and the links to mental health and well-being.  I’m going to mention the changes to the framework and talk about some of the inferences, my opinion and interpretation of the document.

    There are 4 judgement areas: quality of education, behaviour and attitudes, personal development, leadership and management.

    If you prefer, listen to the October 2019 podcast. We recommend you download the accompanying handout before you listen.

    What’s at the heart of this inspection from a mental health perspective?

    The framework is built around the factors that have the greatest protective effect for all children. ‘What’s it like to be a child in this school?’ is the context for the inspections. This is probably a good phrase to have in mind and sets out, in my opinion, the more child centred approach of the new framework.

    The words ‘mentally healthy’ are used about 3 times in the inspection handbook so you might be forgiven for thinking that this new framework is not supportive of the mental health and well-being of the school community.  However, there is a strong systemic resilience-based design to the inspection, which is very welcome.  Here’s how:

    1. Cultural capital and social capital are key themes, ensuring that schools are providing the very best opportunities and outcomes for disadvantaged students. This is a key factor in promoting good resilience and closing the gap. For example, extending and targeting opportunities for clubs, community participation and student leadership in school.
    2. The quality of education judgement ensures the inspection is not just a discussion about data on a sheet, but a triangulation of the data with curriculum, teaching and assessment/outcomes all being important. This shifts the focus from numbers to people, the relationships within lessons and the dynamics of pedagogy and teaching.
    3. The focus on a broad and balanced curriculum offer which will ensure that the creative subjects will once again have focus. Music, drama, social and emotional literacy are for many, part of keeping mentally healthy and maintaining good well-being.
    4. Narrowing of the curriculum in KS2 and KS3 will be reviewed. This is particularly helpful for those students who gain success from the more creative side of the curriculum. Examples include, excessive teaching of literacy and numeracy in year 6 at the cost of other subjects and starting GCSE’s in year 9 not 10.
    5. Staff CPD and subject knowledge has a high importance. This is particularly important when the Healthy Living aspects of PSHE and RSE curriculum become statutory from Sept 2020.  The PSHE association has some great resources to help with this which you can find via this link.
    6. The previous judgment of personal development, behaviour and welfare is now split into two judgements. Behaviour and attitudes and personal development are separate judgements.  Personal development will not have an ‘outcomes’ judgement as such but schools will be judged on the curriculum and wider opportunities (provision and promotion) which are provided, particularly for disadvantaged students.  OFSTED recognises that long term improvements in SMSC, resilience and confidence develop over time and cannot be measured.
    7. Within personal development, high-quality pastoral care is an important aspect of the provision of the school, including the way that the school manages bullying.
    8. There are lots of strong references to respect, tolerance and a school’s role in developing good social influences and good relationships with peers and staff.
    9. Within the leadership and management judgement, CPD for staff is mentioned both as a way of improving the quality of education judgement, but also from a retention and well-being point of view.
    10. Staff well-being is a key feature of the leadership and management judgement. Excessive unnecessary internal data for example is one of the areas that inspectors will be looking at. Leaders will be asked to explain their rationale.  Furthermore, to be outstanding, staff need to report that workload challenges are dealt with and that well-being issues are being addressed.

    Here’s a document which you might find useful: Ten Steps Towards School Staff Wellbeing by Anna Freud.

    Next Steps:

    • Review your curriculum provision, I’ve not yet found a good audit for this, but the PSHE association’s is great for the Healthy Living/RSE/PSHE element.
    • Review the breadth of your curriculum offer both in KS2 and KS3.
    • Take a look at your pastoral provision and ensure it is effective and co-ordinated.
    • The DFE’s Teachers Standards are always a great reference point when discussing and monitoring good practice in the classroom. You can find it here.
    • Ensure your ‘disadvantaged and vulnerable’ data is up to date and that provision and promotion is part of a graduated response to meeting need.
    • Review the Anna Freud 10 steps document and consider one or two priorities to address first.


    * (OFSTED have defined ‘disadvantaged’ as students who access pp funding at any point in the last 6 years; students in care or who left care through adoption or another formal route; Children in Need of help and protection and receiving statutory support from local authority social care.)