Sean Harford, Ofsted’s National Director for Schools corrects some misunderstandings about Ofsted’s requirements.
I’ve been delighted with the feedback from many parts of the sector on our ‘mythbusting’ document, which we updated in March 2015.
We were determined to dispel some fairly common misunderstandings of what we expect when inspecting a school or college and we were keen to curb unnecessary workload pressures on teachers. It’s been one of the most viewed Ofsted documents on GOV.UK over the last few months so we know there is a real appetite for this kind of information.
Acting on feedback
In May, I was heartened to hear more endorsement for the document at a lively session with a great group of education bloggers (all teachers or headteachers). I agreed with a valid point raised about the interpretation of data in small primary schools, so we’ll be adding some points about that soon.
Honest discussions like this, directly with those we inspect, are invaluable and I look forward to many more opportunities. By the way, thanks to @imagineinquiry for your account of the session – ‘very nice’ indeed!
What we don’t expect
Going back to the short document; it contains simple facts such as how we do not require schools to show us individual or previous lesson plans, details of the pay grade of individual teachers, and evidence for inspection beyond that set out in the inspection handbook.
Contrary to some rumours, we don’t expect to see a particular frequency or quantity of work in pupils’ books or folders. We also don’t expect the performance and pupil-tracking data and school or college self-evaluations to be presented in a specific format. And something we’ve often mentioned, but I’ll repeat here, we absolutely do not grade individual lessons.
Working with leadership
There are two things that I’d particularly like to stress:
First, leadership teams need to justify their practices around marking, pupil feedback and lesson planning, observation and grading on their own merits. They should not be citing Ofsted as the reason for doing these things.
Secondly, the best leaders and practitioners do not ask themselves, “What do I need to do to get a good Ofsted judgement?” Rather, they should think about what they need to do to ensure that every child or young person in their school or college gets a decent education and the chance to fulfil their potential.
Over to you
If you haven’t seen it already, I urge you to read the mythbusting document and share it with your colleagues. And we’d be very interested to hear your thoughts in the comments section.