Hopefully, those of you who keep in touch with my updates here and my Twitter activity will have noticed that one of my main preoccupations in the last year has been Ofsted myths.
Getting the message across about what Ofsted does and doesn’t expect at inspection is vitally important. We know that teacher workload is a genuine concern and that, whether through reality or perception, the industry of ‘things that you must do for Ofsted’ has added to that burden. It doesn’t help pupils either, taking attention away from the key priority of providing a good education.
We are now 18 months into our myth busting campaign and we felt it was important to get a sense of whether it was making an impression. That’s why earlier this year we commissioned research among the classroom teachers to establish whether or not the myth busting messages were getting through. The results were largely positive. Of nine myths we have been trying to bust, seven have been debunked. For example, of those surveyed:
- 81% knew that Ofsted don’t require individual lesson plans
- 70% knew that we don’t have guidance on preferred ways of marking
- 74% knew that we don’t grade individual lessons.
Less satisfying though was the discovery that 70% of teachers still seem to think Ofsted has a preferred, child-centred, style of teaching. We don’t. And only a small majority (56%) appreciate that most inspection teams include a serving school leader.
So some grounds for optimism, but more work to do in the coming year.
As part of the same research we also explored wider attitudes towards Ofsted as an organisation and preferences about the way we communicate with the profession. It is important for us to understand how we are perceived so that we can work out how best to engage with the sector and consider any changes that might be necessary to the way we work.
It’s fair to say that we won’t be winning a popularity contest any time soon. No surprise there! But even within some tough messages we can see an acknowledgement of the professionalism of our work. Fifty seven per cent agree that their most recent inspection was ‘a fair and accurate assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of my school’.
Our research with teachers complements work we do with parents, again to understand their awareness and experience of Ofsted and help us adapt and improve what we do and how we communicate.
You can read the full results of our research work with teachers and parents. Also worth a read is the recent NFER Teacher Voice report that shows Ofsted’s mythbusting advice is the most prominent tool for schools in tackling workload. Don’t forget to check out our mythbusting content. And you can watch our playlist of films about myths on our YouTube channel.