Ofsted – useful or useless? #ukedchat

There’s a new framework in town and it’s causing quite a stir. Of course I’m referring to the Ofsted framework launched earlier this academic year. As usual when a new inspection framework is produced we see quite an increase in schools going into a category and this one is no exception.

Ofsted inspections have gone through a huge change in a relatively short time. My first inspection was booked a year to the day when the team came in. There were 4 of them and they stayed in the school for 4 days. They looked in all the cupboards and saw lots of lessons and even went in the playground at break times. We were certainly ready for them having had a year to prepare! The week or so before the inspection, a lorry collected the boxes and boxes of paper that the team would need to go through in order, apparently, to see how good we were.

My second experience was with 6 weeks notice. There was a great reduction in the paperwork and some of the team only stayed for the day. It seemed to be more focused but I’m not sure on what.

My last experience as a headteacher was 26weeks after we had opened a new school and we had just 4 days notice. There was no paper apart from  the School Evaluation Form (SEF) and Raiseonline which the team would access remotely. There was  a long phone call during which I put my views on where I thought the school was but it felt quite ‘short notice and manic’.

Since then I have experienced inspections as a Chair of Governors and have also been able to work with HMI with a school in Special Measures so my experience is  up date and  although I have not experienced an inspection under this framework I’ve had the training and know the apparent differences.

One of the things I remember my first Ofsted for was the fact that the lay inspector had recently been to a school with excellent practice in behaviour management but although he did share some of the things that the school did he was not allowed to tell me where it was. I thought that was daft. My view was and still is that Ofsted and HMI see excellent practice all the time and should share it rather than expecting each school to re-invent the wheel.

For #UKEdChat on Thursday 31st May I would like to explore views of how Ofsted can help and how they should develop in the future. We will start from the premise that for the time being inspections are here to stay!

To whet your appetite, you may like to read Pete Yeoman’s latest post about Ofsted ‘Put Up or Shut Up – The Profession’s Answer to Ofsted

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