Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Ofsted v National Autistic Society

There's certainly a lot of information in the NAS audit report (2012, last post) and we'll be sifting through it for some time. The usefulness in having an autism specific audit is indeed great, and amongst other things it allows us to compare the NAS's views of specialist provision with those of Ofsted.

Hookstone Chase Enhanced Mainstream School, Harrogate
The audit comments on the need for the council to:

Ensure quality of strategies and interventions

at the school and later says that good practise was observed.

To be sure this gives us very little to go on, but given these things lie at the very heart of what an EMS does, it at least begs some further questions. Does this mean provision is generally poor, generally variable or generally good? Ofsted inspected the school in 2011 and said of the resourced provision:

Carefully targeted support ensures that pupils in the school’s Resourced Provision make good progress


The small number who are very well supported as part of the school’s Resourced Provision achieve well in relation to their starting points.


Potentially vulnerable pupils and pupils with special educational needs and/or disabilities, including those in the Resourced Provision, are provided for well.

It made no recommendations for improvement for pupils in the resourced provision.

Ofsted's 2013 inspection report was much the same:

Pupils with statements of special educational needs, including those supported by additional resources for children with communication and interaction difficulties and those receiving support for school action plus, receive excellent teaching and support.


Extremely well-managed enhanced provision for communication and interaction difficulties makes a vital contribution to the lives of pupils and families of pupils within this school and others in the locality.

It, too, made no recommendations for improvement for pupils in the resourced provision. So Ofsted saw a well run unit, whereas the NAS were, in effect, asking questions of the service. Who is right?

King James Enhanced Mainstream School, Knaresborough
The audit also raised funding issues for King James, the secondary enhanced mainstream school:

Re-evaluate the resourcing to ____ [incorrectly redacted - should read KJ (King James)] EMS based on the number of pupils with a statement for autism. 

Let's not make any assumptions about whether resourcing was too high or low, and turn to Ofsted, who inspected the school at the end of 2011, which is at the same approximate time as the NAS carried out its audit. What does the inspection report say of the EMS?


It doesn't even acknowledge there is a specialist resourced provision at the school. All we can find is this:

As a result, achievement is now good in most subjects and for all groups, including those with special educational needs and/or disabilities.

Not only does this audit leave the Council having to answer questions, it leaves Ofsted in the same boat.

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