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What's That Coming Over The Hill? Is it Ofsted?

Published on 08/10/14

An e4education blog post last week flagged up that a recent no-notice Ofsted inspection was triggered by the absence of key information on a school’s website.

I think it’s important to note that it DOESN’T appear that Ofsted are trawling school websites looking for omissions so that they can initiate inspections. The omission in this case was reported to Ofsted by a parent and as the information was particularly sensitive, an inspection followed. However, schools can bank on the fact that Ofsted do check school websites in advance of inspections… and that may be a few weeks before the inspection actually happens.

Several of the ‘what must be published’ requirements are ‘new’ this year and add to the 2012 regulations. New areas include the accounting for Sports Premium funding, and others have been re-calibrated so it make sense to go through them, checking off that they appear on your school site. The requirements can be found on the gov.uk site at https://www.gov.uk/what-maintained-schools-must-publish-online. Recent discussion with an inspector suggested that omitting to include any of these areas might direct the team to explore them in particular detail when in school. One can imagine that missing off some of the SEND-related information might ensure that your SENCO gets a double-length interview!

The Inspection Guidelines have also changed for this Academic year (yet again I hear you all cry!). Although some of the safeguarding areas have been streamlined, I think e-safety will continue to receive a fair degree of attention. As we’re always looking to get as many points on the board before an inspection as possible, schools can demonstrate that e-safety is an important and established issue as part of their safeguarding responsibilities by ensuring that the school website (and other online communication channels – eg. Facebook, Twitter) has up-to-date and appropriate information and guidance for parents/carers and children regarding online safety at school and at home.

All this does make the design, navigation and development of school websites even more of a complicated challenge. With so much information needing to be ‘front and centre’ and very easily accessible, successful prosecution of the other purposes of school websites (such as marketing and parental engagement) may be more difficult. Over to you, e4education!