A Q&A with Ofsted’s Matthew Barnes on SEND reforms - TSP Briefing
This exclusive interview by Editor-at-Large Edward Farrow, with Matthew Barnes, OFSTED’s special adviser on SEND is on the most challenging of topics – Ofsted inspections.
What key messages are there for schools from the Ofsted and CQC local area inspection reports for SEND services?
“The key message is that there’s a long way to go in terms of implementing the reforms. I think that we’re all aware that the reforms themselves were very ambitious and I suppose rightly so. And so, from that perspective, they’re a positive thing. But I suppose that the main message really is that when we think about our children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities, it’s still a very mixed picture. Although there are pockets of very good practice that we’ve seen out there, the general picture is that there’s a long way to go – particularly for parents and young people who are central to what’s supposed to have changed with the reforms; their involvement in co-producing provision, and all those sorts of things.”
The new Ofsted strategy is to be a force for improvement through intelligent, responsible and focused inspection. What do you think might change so that Ofsted is a force for improvement for pupils with SEND?
“Well, that’s a very good question. I think that the messages that Amanda’s already given about being cautious about how we use data, in particular when we’re inspecting, are key. There also needs to be a slight shift in emphasis to thinking more about how a curriculum has an impact for all students. I think that our current inspection framework is quite special needs friendly. However, I know from the messages that I hear from the sector out there, that there is a feeling that there are perverse incentives around trying to achieve the best outcomes in terms of national benchmarks. And I suppose, if I’m thinking about outcomes for children and young people with SEND and how a curriculum can improve that, then I think that it’s a very positive move that Amanda has been talking about.
In essence, I think that there’s a real opportunity to really explore and understand what the positive outcomes are for children and young people across the attainment thresholds. For when we look at the quality of a curriculum and how it improves outcomes and prepares children and young people for adult life, we’ll realise the great opportunities that can really take those perverse incentives away.“
Read the full interview:
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