Ofsted. The big O. The bane of every teachers life. You won’t find much love for Ofsted from teachers. Mainly because of the stress that is placed on them by Senior Leadership Teams because of the dread of Ofsted. Well, Ofsted are back with a shiny new framework. The most controversial aspect is their redefining of ‘outstanding’. Well, according to dictionary.com, it means ‘marked by superiority or distinction; excellent; distinguished’. Isn’t that what we all thought it meant anyway?!
When it comes to the judgement of Ofsted on the school, the school cannot be judged outstanding on teaching alone. It should be a collection of things, including a comparison of the judgements of the Ofsted team with the judgements of the school. This makes sense to me. I do not understand how someones ability to teach can be judged in 30 minutes. Therefore, you need to look at a broader spectrum. Plus, during an observation, the teacher isn’t getting watched much. The students are. Why? Because they will show how good a teacher you are. They will show the inspector, in their behaviour; attitude; work; progress etc. Their progress over time will show whether you’re outstanding or not. Whatever the outcomes, it should feed into your CPD. A school that doesn’t help improve your areas of weakness is a school not interested in you. Time to move on!
Believe it or not, the Ofsted inspectors don’t expect to see a lesson plan. They want to see a well planned lesson that enables all students to learn and make progress. This implies that you have planned personalised differentiation, up and down the ability spectrum. They’re looking to see if you have catered for all of your students and do it all the time. Again, the evidence for this will be in the work the students have done and in the progress they have made.
The downside for some subjects will be the focus on literacy and numeracy. If this isn’t well supported, you are likely to be judged inadequate. Either way, it’s the duty of every teacher to promote these no matter what subject they teach. Some subjects lend themselves to this more easily than others.
The good news is that homework only has to be set if it is appropriate to the learning needs of the students. Hopefully schools will interpret this sensibly and remove the need for every subject to assign homework of a certain length every week/fortnight.
So there you have it. Some good, some bad, some downright ugly. Ofsted inspections are about the management team of the school. If there is a problem with a teacher underperforming, then as long as the school has a system in place to help and support that problem, then that should be enough.