Saturday, 25 January 2014

Ofsted- notice to improve

My previous post gave an idea of the process, this one is my views!


The report is out, we are still deemed to be a "good" school.

During the process however, we were not so sure. The inspectors were too quick to jump to conclusions without enough evidence.

A lot has been written about lesson observations and ofsted. Here are some posts which I have found of particular interest:

   http://www.matthewtaylorsblog.com/thersa/inspector-inspect-thyself/
http://teachertoolkit.me/2013/12/10/progress-over-time-potteaching-by-teachertoolkit/?utm_content=buffer84178&utm_source=buffer&utm_medium=twitter&utm_campaign=Buffer
http://marymyatt.com/blog/2013-11-23/more-on-lesson-observations
http://tabularasaeducation.wordpress.com/2014/01/25/graded-observations/



I agree 100% with removing individual lesson grades. The new guidance for inspections does seem to be moving in the right direction (See  http://teachingbattleground.wordpress.com/2013/12/23/a-christmas-miracle-ofsted-get-it-right-for-once/ )

This is how I think Ofsted should operate:

1. Understand that there is a lot more to a school than the data. Don't come with all the answers.
2. When carrying out observations talk to the head or other leaders before jumping to conclusions based on a brief time in a lesson- Whatever the view of  the lesson is, ask if that is a fair representation. If you don't see something, don't assume it never happens. Similarly, if you do see something ask if that is common practice.
3. Talk to the children! Lots!
4. Remember that what you say can have an enormous impact.


We have to be accountable- I have no problem with that, but I long for a time when the leadership of the school is trusted to do that effectively through non-judgemental  observations, peer observations, coaching and reflection. The role of the external agency should be to support schools in areas that they need, not just tell them what they already know. There will always be areas to be improved. A culture of support will be far more productive in the long term.

HMCI berates teachers for leaving the profession and "moaning" (http://news.tes.co.uk/news_blog/b/weblog/archive/2014/01/15/teachers-must-stop-quot-moaning-quot-says-sir-michael-wilshaw.aspx)
Tristram Hunt wants teachers to be licenced (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-25686208) so they can be recognised.

As teachers we nurture the children we teach, we build an environment of praise and reward to encourage them to reach their potential. Surely we deserve the same?

.



Ofsted.

One word that, all too often, strikes fear into the heart of teachers.
The inspection that we recently went through has certainly given me plenty to think about.

I have written two blogposts. This, the first, gives an account of the process through the eyes of a class based teacher with leadership responsibilities.  There are lots of Headteacher blogposts about Ofsted such as http://theprimaryhead.com/category/ofsted/ but I thought it would be interesting to give a teacher's eye view. Note that this is purely observational; have not added my personal thoughts or opinions. The second piece which can be found here http://mrshalford.blogspot.co.uk/2014/01/ofsted-notice-to-improve.html
  is my "Notice to Improve" or "Steps to Success" regarding the process itself.

As always, comments welcome.


Monday.

Lunchtime following play rehearsals , headteacher asked all staff to go to the staffroom where we were told that there would be two inspectors arriving Tuesday and Wednesday. Stunned silence (our  previous inspection was less than 18 months ago where the outcome was good. No drop in results and totally unexpected!)

Part time staff contacted.  Mass tidy up following the Christmas Fayre that took place the Friday before. Rehearsals for next two days postponed. Lesson plans needed to replace the play rehearsals that had been planned. Subject leaders printed out data from the school's tracking system and SENCo distributed most recent PP list to add to files.


Tuesday.

Inspectors arrived at 8am. Introduced to the staff and straight into meetings with the Head. Lesson observations followed with the lead inspector carrying out joint observations with the headteacher whilst the additional inspector carried out observations. Feedback from the head to staff observed given in front of the lead inspector for monitoring. Observations lasted no longer than 20 minutes.  Inspectors heard children read and met with the Rights Respectors. There was a governor meeting after lunch and more observations and looking through children's books.  They looked at the parent view and also received a phone call from a parent to tell them what they thought of the school. Questionnaires were given to staff.

After school feedback was offered to observed teachers followed by meeting with SENCo , Maths and English subject leaders. (Both subjects seen at the same time.) This was followed by the Inspectors meeting with the headteacher. Head then fed back findings of day one to us. No clues as to who/what will be observed the next day. Initial judgements not in line with school's judgements and inspectors agreed to swap roles for the next day (lead inspector had been in KS2 with Headteacher, AI in KS1) with the Head carrying out joint observations with the lead inspector.

Wednesday

Inspectors arrived at 8am . Met with EYFS leader and TAs.
Lesson observations (2 in KS2, 3 in KS1) plus learning walks and noting displays, looking in books. One inspector attended the whole school assembly.  More observations after lunch followed by paper work and meetings with head teacher. Final feedback to senior staff at 3.30 then Ofsted had left the building. 


I was observed twice on the second day- for guided reading and for maths. Not all the classes were observed but inspectors spent time in all classes looking at displays and books and spent sometime sitting in central areas (we are an open plan school)

In a 6 class school, 5 classes had observations. Books from all classes had been made available but not all were looked at. They did not want to look at class planing files, assessment files or other paperwork. It was down to the Subject leaders and SENco to put them in the picture for that.

So, that is what happened on the two days- just the facts.

Please read my next post for my feedback to Ofsted...


Ofsted:Ofsted is the Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills. We report directly to Parliament and we are independent and impartial. We inspect and regulate services which care for children and young people, and those providing education and skills for learners of all ages. 
http://www.ofsted.gov.uk/about-us