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iAbacus users can now access the 2019 Ofsted criteria in iAbacus via a template that can be customised to suit your context and priorities. It’s quick and easy – read on to find out how.

In a previous article, Ofsted: Straightjacket or improvement tool? John Pearce set out three ways to approach the Ofsted criteria:

A. An irrelevance you can choose to ignore

B. A set of new standard operating descriptions you have to follow

C. A set of new guidelines to help you think through what you want to achieve

The 2019 Ofsted judgement criteria are now available within iAbacus and you can use them with your preferred approach A, B or C.

Current iAbacus users can access the new Ofsted criteria by logging into their account clicking on ‘Create abacus’ and then selecting ‘2019 – Ofsted EIF – Maintained schools and academies’ from the template dropdown list.

Newcomers to the iAbacus self-evaluation and strategic planning tool can find out more or gain instant access to the new Ofsted template by taking a free trial.

You can use the template with the Ofsted criteria exactly as they are (B), you can start with the Ofsted criteria and customise them to fit your context (C), or you can ignore the new framework and create your own criteria using a blank iAbacus template (A) (see Customise iAbacus)

Leaders at all levels can do this individually, or use the ‘collaboration’ functions to let colleagues view, comment on, and/or edit your evaluation and planning.

Is there a best way to use iAbacus?

Whilst iAbacus supports all three approaches, most users gravitate to C – starting with the criteria and amending or adding to it to reflect the school context and priorities.

It’s the simple flexibility that makes iAbacus so effective for bespoke self-evaluation and strategic planning.

Our recommendation for using iAbacus with the Ofsted framework is to:

1. Start with the Ofsted criteria ‘as is’. To do this, log in, click the create button and open the template ‘2019 – Ofsted EIF – Maintained schools and academies’

2. Involve colleagues in making judgements, and then add specific criteria to make it bespoke for your school (use the ‘customise’ button at the top of the screen).  In this way, colleagues gain a swift understanding of expectations at national, local, school, subject and even teacher level.

3. You can then use iAbacus in a blend of three approaches, depending on your current needs:  school improvement planner, risk assessor, troubleshooter (watch a video about the different approaches)

a. First, clarify your priorities for school improvement, by using iAbacus as risk assessor.

b. Then use iAbacus as troubleshooter to drill into the detail of your high risk, priority area(s).

c. This will eventually build up to you to completing a full self-evaluation and school improvement plan.

4. You may choose, at any stage, to involve governors, trustees, parents, or students either by inviting them to view or edit in iAbacus, or by clicking the button that creates a visual, pdf report.

Why does this approach work? There is a huge body of evidence (notably John Hattie, Michael Fullan and Alma Harris) that shows that involving colleagues in understanding the purpose of their work is a major factor in effective school improvement.

The 2019 Ofsted framework supports this approach by moving further away from a quality control model towards a quality assurance approach. Inspection teams will be including and involving school staff in making and justifying judgements.

Inspectors will be validating the self-evaluation of teachers, teams and leadership at all levels. iAbacus supports this way of working by being the process that provides each professional’s judgements, evidence, analysis and plans.

If you’d like more on this, or indeed help with any of it, please do get in touch. We’re always happy to advise technically, or offer an online screen share session where we walk and talk you through possibilities.  We are keen to work alongside schools, groups of schools and MATs.

If you’re not yet an iAbacus user and would like to see how it can help your school improvement efforts, why not try it now for free.