I am delighted to see that Ofsted have produced a clarification for schools document. At last, it seems, Ofsted have accepted their responsibly to offer some guidance for schools regarding what Ofsted do/do not expect to see. As much of the madness in schools stems from Chinese whispers about ‘what Ofsted want..’, I think a myth-buster was long overdue. I did hope that all schools would have been sent the document as a matter of course. However, it seems that schools will only be able to see it if they look on the Ofsted website.
Amongst other welcome information, the document clarifies the myths about marking, lesson observations, data: in fact a lot of the issues for which the refrain “Ofsted will expect to see…” should (hopefully!) now be rendered defunct.
I emailed the link to the document to myself at work, and first thing on Monday morning I printed several copies off. I then asked our centre manager if I could have a few minutes of ‘any other business’ at the end of our Monday staff meeting.
Towards the end of the meeting, a more senior boss – our area manager – popped in to join us. When we came to ‘AOB’ and I handed out copies of the clarification document, the centre manager advised me that they’d already seen it, “This is the updated guidance for inspectors, yes? We’ve already discussed that”.
The (more senior) area manager then said this,
“We were inspected three days before that came out, and everyone was graded”
Now, this inspection was in May. I may be getting confused, but I’m certain that inspectors shouldn’t have been grading lessons for a long time before that?
Anyway, when I pointed out that this document is clarification for schools, and is only a few days old, the staff then all agreed that they hadn’t seen it.
“Of particular interest…” I ventured “…is the bit about grading teachers”
Our area manager looked up. I looked straight at him:
“I think schools might now be at odds with what Ofsted are expecting to see, if they persist in grading lessons – especially by using the old Ofsted criteria”
It was like fate, I could hardly believe it. There, I had an opportunity to say aloud to one of the most senior bosses, what I have spent months, and months saying on my blog.
To cap it all, on leaving our centre, the area manager in question approached me and asked me if he could take a copy of the clarification document with him. I can’t quite work out why, but this made me ridiculously happy. I’ve now arranged to meet with him on the first Monday after half term to discuss the matter of lesson observations, and at least open a dialogue on the matter.
For the seventy-plus percent of us that are still subject to graded lesson observations – and all the associated box-ticking, accountability, subjective nonsense – I think this clarification document offers us our best chance yet of forcing some change.
Please don’t make an assumption that this document has been seen by everyone – it’s extremely unlikely it has. Let’s now make it our business to ensure that all bosses and teaching staff see it: email it, print it off and hand out, pin it to your staff room notice board, put it on the school website, add the subject to your meeting agenda, talk about it in casual conversation…any way you can, just make sure everyone is made aware.
Here is the link again: Ofsted Inspections – clarification for schools
Spread the word!
*update 24/10/14: Sean Harford has tonight informed me that he believes the DfE have emailed the document to all schools…It remains to be seen if the information will filter through to classroom staff – let’s hope it does.
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