The Review for Progress and Development - an Education evaluation framework

Click here to View the RPD

View the RPD student survey here

Inspecting the Inspectors: students assess Ofsted regime’s toll on wellbeing - Guardian Article

Documentary - “The Framework”

The story so far

Breaking the Silence started in January 2019. With an upcoming government consultation about Ofsted’s new education evaluation framework, we wondered what young people thought about how their schools were assessed. Recognising that students are rarely asked about their knowledge and experience of education, States of Mind launched the project to capture their perspectives. The core aims of Breaking the Silence are to challenge the educational status quo and present actionable alternatives that meet the needs of young people and support them to flourish.

At the core of our work is the belief that, (i) young peoples’ views should be centred in all decisions around their education and, (ii) they are capable of conceptualising, defining and actioning meaningful change. Breaking the Silence is a constantly evolving research endeavour and is currently entering its fourth phase. Read more here.

Throughout the Breaking the Silence project, a participatory action research approach has been used to ensure that young people are active participants, not passive subjects. Students co-develop our projects; they shape the research questions, conduct their own surveys, focus groups and interviews, analyse the data and decide how this is to be disseminated, supported by States of Mind and our partner organisation, the Institute of Education, UCL. Each year, we work with a new cohort of young people who are in year 12 and attending sixth form colleges in the London borough of Newham. Young people apply to take part and commit to weekly sessions throughout the academic year.

Phase one

2019 - What do young people think about Ofsted and its impact on their education?

Focus groups were initiated with young people from a number of London colleges. Some volunteered to analyse the data, supported by States of Mind. They wrote a letter to Amanda Spielman outlining their findings. In particular, they highlighted major flaws around how education is measured and how this leads to ‘memorisation’ instead of learning, negatively impacts on the mental health and wellbeing of students and the lack of real world value of much of their schooling. They aspire for more autonomy and for education to provide opportunities to: ‘discover their strengths and weaknesses… while allowing them to start distinguishing their unique values and preferences for the future’.

The students received a response from Ofsted which did not address the problems raised, nor propose any solutions to the complex issues raised by the students.

Phase two

2019/20 - What is the impact of schooling on the identity, psychological health and personal development of young people?

The following year, a new cohort of students considered the outcomes of phase one and decided to take the project in a different direction. They constructed questionnaires and co-facilitated focus groups and interviews with the support of an IOE doctorate student. Check out the summary of findings from the questionnaire and focus groups. A disturbing picture emerged of an education system that values results above human flourishing, stifles creativity, identity, personal development and often negatively impacts the mental health of young people. They asserted many ideas for educational evolution, including increased “personal input” to curricula, “different ways of assessing” and valuing mental health and individuality. Two podcasts were also put together by States of Mind alongside student participants, to further bring the findings to life. One of the student leaders, Reegan Mason, wrote a piece outlining the emerging issues and ideas for innovation.

Phase 3

2020/21 - Designing an alternative education evaluation framework

In this phase, a new cohort of young people studied the current Ofsted framework, alongside national and international research around education evaluation. Subsequently, they co-interviewed Headteachers, former Ofsted inspectors, academics and others alongside a doctorate researcher who fully documented the process. The group then drafted an evaluation framework called the ‘Review for Progress and Development’ (RPD). For a fuller summary of the direction of phases three and four, see here. The RPD differs hugely from Ofsted’s external accountability, focussing instead on school self-evaluation and collaborative evaluation across school networks. The final draft is a work in progress and a documentary is currently being edited that followed the project over the course of the year. It will be shared very soon!

At our Education Futures in Action conference in July 2021, co-organised alongside UCL, young innovators from States of Mind presented their evidence-based ideas around educational transformation with candour and eloquence. Three leaders of the Breaking the Silence project have presented their ideas at various national conferences and to the Education Select Committee.

Phase 4

2021/22 - Refining & implementing the Review of Progress and Development

A new group of students came together in late September 2021. They worked with States of Mind practitioners and students to develop an understanding of phases one-three. Subsequently, they built on the work conducted by previous students to build upon the work of previous cohorts and refine the Review for Progress and Development (RPD).

Based on their own research involving reading numerous studies and conducting focus groups with students and teachers, six evaluative areas emerged:

1 Student mental health 2 Student - teacher relationships 3 Student interactions 4 Teacher autonomy 5 Student satisfaction 6 Life skills 7 Personal development

The RPD involves continuous school self-evaluation in partnership with local schools. The aim is for the seven evaluation areas to be measured yearly, with young people and teachers working collaboratively, drawing upon data emerging from surveys and focus groups completed by students and staff. It is an interactive process where those subject to education work together to evaluate their school community and co-produce the learning environment that responds flexibly and authentically to the young people.

We are proud to share the RPD in draft form. This document includes the structure of the evaluation framework, rationale as to why the approach and measures have been chosen, all composed by student participants in their own words. The key evidence drawn upon is to shape the RPD is also included. States of Mind are currently working with the Institute of Education to publish a paper that captures the survey, focus group and interview data in more depth.

Please also view a copy of the survey for students here and a public engagement form here. Do let us know your thoughts on the RPD as this will inform the next phases of the project.

Phase 5

2022/23 – Collaboration

A core group of 8 young people who took part in various phases of Breaking the Silence continued to collaborate and co-produce ways of communicating their findings and insights to a wider audience. They took part in the National Education Union’s Beyond Ofsted project alongside teachers and an academic team based at the Institute of Education, UCL.

In November 2023, States of Mind will attend the launch of Beyond Ofsted alongside MPs, parents and colleagues from the teaching and academic professions.

As a contribution to Beyond Ofsted, two of our young leaders composed an excellent article, Hungry for Change, outlining the findings of Breaking the Silence and making a case for what the evolution of school evaluation could look like framed around the Review for Progress and Development.

The young people have also been invited to form part of the Advisory Board for another organisation, Rethinking Accountability, who are also hoping to promote change in relation to school evaluation.

Phase 6

From October-December 2023 a new group of young people attending a Newham Sixth Form college volunteered to take Breaking the Silence forward into a new phase of action research.

Having perused the previous findings and after exploring key literature relating to school evaluation, they noted that for the Review for Progress and Development to be an authentic, representative approach, there was a need for parents to take part in the co-production process.

With this in mind they agreed upon the following research question: ‘How do parents think education should be evaluated?’

The students co-constructed a questionnaire for parents to elicit their ideas. This will be used to generate data in relation to the next action phase as described below.

Due to logistical constraints we were unable to continue working with the students at this time, hence the focus over the coming months will inviting parents to work with States of Mind to continue designing the Review for Progress and Development. By the end of the academic year 2024 the evaluation framework should be fully constructed and ready for trialling in schools.