Ofsted myths and facts on assessment

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We’re still hearing from lots of teachers that they’re not completely sure what Ofsted is expecting to see in terms of assessment practice and are worried about fallout from Ofsted at their next inspection.

Here’s a quick guide to the myths and facts to help you:


“Ofsted wants to see lots of data to demonstrate and track progress.”

FALSE! Inspectors will want to know how schools are assessing whether their pupils are making progress which is appropriate for their age and ability and is sufficiently challenging. Inspectors will gather information from observations in lessons, pupils’ work, discussions with pupils about their understanding and acquisition of knowledge, and the school’s own records. However, Ofsted will not expect any particular data outputs from a school’s assessment system.

“Ofsted has a preferred assessment system against which they will judge schools.”

FALSE! Ofsted will not expect to see any particular type of assessment system in a school. It is important that each school develops a system that is consistent with its own curriculum and supports effective teaching and learning.

“My school will be penalised by Ofsted if it is still developing new assessment systems.”

FALSE! Inspectors recognise that schools are at different stages in the development of assessment without levels, and will take this into account when considering how schools are monitoring the progress of pupils. Inspectors will want to understand how pupil progress is being assessed, and how the chosen systems are benefiting teaching and learning.


The Ofsted Inspection 2015 Handbook has the following to say about assessment:

“When considering the school’s records for the progress of current pupils, inspectors will recognise that schools are at different points in their move towards adopting a system of assessment without national curriculum levels.”

“As part of pupils’ progress, inspectors will consider the growth in pupils’ security, breadth and depth of knowledge, understanding and skills.”
‘Inspectors will make a judgement on the effectiveness of teaching, learning and assessment by evaluating the extent to which the school’s engagement with parents, carers and employers helps them to understand how children and learners are doing in relation to the standards expected and what they need to do to improve.”

“Ofsted recognises that marking and feedback to pupils, both written and oral, are important aspects of assessment. However, Ofsted does not expect to see any specific frequency, type or volume of marking and feedback; these are for the school to decide through its assessment policy. Marking and feedback should be consistent with that policy, which may cater for different subjects and different age groups of pupils in different ways, in order to be effective and efficient in promoting learning.”

“Ofsted will take a range of evidence into account when making judgements, including published performance data, the school’s in-year performance data and work in pupils’ books and folders. However, unnecessary or extensive collections of marked pupils’ work are not required for inspection.”

Find out more

Watch Sean Harford, National Director for Schools, Ofsted, talking about Ofsted expectations for assessment in September 2015:

ean Harford talks about what inspectors will look at when considering a school’s assessment system
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Progress & Assess

Find out how Pearson Primary Progress & Assess can support your assessment policy with child-friendly tests that you can use with your current teaching programmes or alongside the fantastic Abacus, Bug Club and Science Bug programmes.

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