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Discussion in 'Ofsted inspections' started by angieHT, Jul 11, 2010.
Will someone will the power to change things look at this post?
The message from deluded sounds a bit like our experience. Our school takes children from primaries in a difficult area, but we work very hard with them. There are other schools higher in the league table but parents like this school.
We have put a lot of work into tracking pupil progress. We used to use pupil achievement tracker but now that it is gone we use 4matrix. We also use FFT, Raise and Yellis. We were able to show progress for every pupil from their primary school but our inspectors said that attainment was too low and that some teaching was only satisfactory. They also made a fuss about some of our procedures but these were all easy to put right.
SLT were involved with the whole process including looking at lessons. This is a welcome improvement, making it far less of a mystery, but they still took the view that they were showing us how it was done. We were unhappy with being given satisfactory. It doesn't help us at all. I think it makes you less likely to keep up the pressure if they don't acknowledge all the good things that parents recognise and value.
I agree that Ofsted needs to be improved. The team we had didn't have enough time, and didn't look at enough teaching to make a fair judgement. They said that they wished they could have seen more but they have a very tight brief. In particular I would criticise them for not taking enough notice of our own data about progress. They barely commented on it, and although we were 'involved' it was not like being an equal partner.
I agree that there are some good suggestions here that someone should be taking notice of.
And as for that overpaid, self-serving, greedy and useless head of Ofsted on some £300,000 pa, Ms Christine Gilbert just get out before you do anymore damage!
I'm not a teacher but I have had to deal with Ofsted as a childminder. I doubt that they are effective at inspecting schools (they certainly know nothing about inspecting childminders. My 'inspection' was a joke. The woman doing it just followed a list of questions on her computer and couldn't deviate. IfI asked a question that wasn't on her screen she couldn't answer it. But I digress) but worse than that they are a deeply incompetent organisation. I was so astonished by their incompetence that I wrote to the relevant select committe and they put my evidence into their report on the working of Ofsted. But it doesn't matter how much criticism there is from the select committee as they actually seem to have no power to force Ofsted to change.
It's for this reason that I believe Ofsted should be closed and replaced with properly acountable and separate inspectorates for schools, childcare and so on. If you've never tried asking Ofsted a question it's worth phoning them just to see how dim they really are. They have never been able to answer any question I've asked them, you can't speak to the person who would know the answer and they never phone back. They are just hopeless. And if that's how badly they organise themselves it is hardly surprising that their competence at carrying out inspections is also deeply questionable.
When the inspector was coming to my house I told her it is painted green (the only gren house in the street and the number clearly visible). She went next door because 'it had a lot of green plants in the garden'. Enough said.
<font size="2">Though I also am not a teacher, I read this thread with great interest and refer back to an earlier opinion that with greater preparation through self evaluation and data analysis schools using these data management systems are less stressed over OfSTED inspections and in likelihood are achieving better results due to their approach of reflective and thorough self evaluation. </font><font size="2">I also refer back to the person that stated that not all schools are using self evaluation to its greatest potential and is sometimes "hit and miss" over these issues.</font><font size="2">Though I come from a different profession, self evaluation of my own work through reflection of evidence and effectiveness is at the heart of good practice and if applied to your situations and this helps also why ever not adopt this process.</font> <font size="2">I suggest if there are systems to aid in better assessing your own school and evaluating effectiveness against "data", the same data that OfSTED are supposedly regurgitating to use against you, then why not use this to your advantage. Get an effective system to aid in self evaluation and have explanations ready for inspections to best challenge their judgements and prove whether your school is genuinely doing well.</font>
Beat the machine rather than complaining of injustice.
Thank you RJH for your comments.
You are absolutely correct in suggesting that schools should do more self-evaluation and provide their own evidence of their effectiveness. It must look odd to many who work in organisations where self-evaluation is well-developed and an integral part of what people do, to hear calls from teachers to abolish their Ofsted because they don't like inspections.
In my work with secondary heads, one of my first priorities is looking at the school's systems for evaluating assessment evidence and for reviewing teaching. I also go through how they make use of data. The common issues are a reticence to make evaluating teaching more systematic, and not making good use of the data that they have. Yes they have got plenty of data, but it is too often to see that they have made any use of it to make improvements. They will bring out loads of graphs but when I ask them what they have found out and what they have done about it there is often little to see.
What schools need to do is to see themselves as Ofsted see them. Schools need to occasionally do a mini dry-run inspection of their own to see exactly which areas they need to target. The criteria that Ofsted used needs to be made available to everyone and built into their systems. Teachers should have the checklist beside them when teaching every lesson and ask themselves "what would an inspector make of this lesson?"
People who have read my posts before know that I go on about leadership - usually in a critical manner. I don't apologise for this because I see too many heads and SMTs who get too involved in the physical running of the school to really give the time needed to look at the quality of what they are doing.
When you look at JDs for assistant heads it is often about being in charge of an area. You can't always identify someone who makes their top priority school standards or evaluation. Where are the school's priorities if this is the case?
When you look at the role of heads of subjects, there is often is no responsibility for teaching in their subject, or for improving weak teaching. Subject leaders in the better schools I know are expected to do these things in conjunction with SMT. The most impressive heads that I have known have been ruthless in expecting top performance from every teacher, whilst making sure that the systems to support them are highly effective. It is found in such things as ensuring that CPD is available, targeted and followed up. Little things like refurbishing the staffroom and providing free tea and coffee, and having good systems like behaviour management to support teaching. SMT members are found around the school, in lessons exercising their roles as leaders.
Many teachers deserve better leaders than they have got. If teachers are writing despairing things on this forum about Ofsted then it is likely that their schools' leaders are not working hard enough on self-evaluation.
<font size="2">Purely from a point of interest I have just googled school self evaluation and there seems to be dozens of systems available!</font><font size="2">Remembering a few of the points that have been raised though there seems to just be the two links that mention lesson observations, self evaluation for leadership and departments, action planning, CPD and preparing for Ofsted etc - Bluewave Swift and School Centre.</font> <font size="2">We use something well tailored to meet our needs in product design and development but we went through a similar process of assessing what was available on the market before buying I would suggest the process starts by first seeing what is available, assessing your needs and resources and then what is best for you to improve your proficiency in your job and reduce the "chore" of it all.</font>
A most informative forum. Thank you angie for taking the trouble to explain in so much detail why schools must do more for themselves in preparing for inspection. I am always a bit embarrassed reading the messages on this forum when people rant about Ofsted because I worry what parents will think of us as teachers, especially when the messages are full of spelling mistakes.
I agree that schools need to look at their systems especially how they use results data and look at teaching. The role of data manager is probably more important than most schools make it. When ours left we separated the data entry work to admin and an AHT took on the role for evaluation and working with HoDs who do their own analysis for all groups. We use raise when it is available and yellis early in the year plus Fishertrust to set targets and 4matrix to forecast ahead to next year.
Each department looks at their teaching and identifies a termly focus. We are improving the forms that we use so that they include the things that inspectors look at. Just doing these things makes you more comfortable about the idea of being inspected.
We had issues with our self evaluation a few years back when it was still an element within the inspection reports and it seriously brought down our OfSTED score and it reflected poor leadership and management and I believe this to be the the case.
We went through a rigorous assessment of how we could improve this and are now regular strong users of several data management systems and I myself took on the role of data manager within the school we feed all of that information into Bluewave Swift the system mentioned earlier and make explanations of the data, making it informative and productive and then feed this into our school development plans both short term and long term and the system automatically records that same evaluation into our SEF, SDP and everything from Safeguarding, ECM and further.
They're very good. Very supportive.
Does anyone know of a list of resources that can support school improvement with information about how schools have used them?
I would value something that included best practice, or case studies in using what most schools already have, like RAISE and FFT, but also some of the new things like those mentioned in this thread.
I am not keen to see too many blatant pugs for products (Mr Dizzle?), but I do think it important that schools keep an eye on what is available.
There is a phrase 'Existing systems give existing results'. I often get introduced to a person called a 'data manager'. They get paid a modest salary but all the same that same salary could kit out the school with some very good software or other improvement systems. When I see what that person does - often it is just producing printouts of lists taken from a spreadsheet - I am fairly convinced that the school is wasting its money.
My advice is to have a good look at what the best schools are using and rethink how you are using your staff. The area of school performance and data management is much too important to have several salaries invested and be getting so little for it.
As a secondary maths/science supply teacher I was asked to cover an SMT for a week [y7-11 maths] i.e. take all her classes by my agency. I looked at the staff list for this 1200 secondary school:
45 TAs, 4CSs, 2HLTAs
6 secretaries plus an HT PA
4 data management staff, 6 IT managers/support staff
1 cover manager plus 1 relief cover manager
7LSA s for the ESN unit
Cleaners, caretakers x2) +++
What was the salary bill for this lot compared to mine £90/day including deductions for "holiday" pay. Did I give "added value"? You bet I did!
63 admin/clerical vs some 45 qualified teachers on the roll!
Of course I agree that staffing are important issues and that the costs can be astonishing and determining whether it is better to hire extra support staff is an debate that will rage on as long as the training their going through is lacking and budget cuts continue.
I was given the EXTRA title of Data manager rather than being employed as that and could not possible do my extra responsibilites without the system that we use.
I apologise if I came across as if I was plugging anything I was merely meaning to say that this is the solution that fits my needs and there is a solution for everyone. I'd just rather not still being having to buy an extra filing cabinet every 2 years just to hold all the paperwork I used to collate.
As a last point as well, we did have to lose an administrator to be able to afford to buy our system however I'd rather lose a good administrator than lose another good teacher as im sure many of you will agree.
angieHT - if Christine Gilbert is stepping down, why's she still there?
You may like this
But it worries me that with all this intelligent comment people are not stabbing at the heart of the problem.
Ofsted or whatever regulatory body it is should be there to
1. Ensure key minimum standards (as agreed by schools, not as randomly dictated by politicians) are being met.
2. Audit schools own descriptions of their practices and their reports of attainment.
The problem is all this rating of outstanding, very good, good etc. It's deeply flawed and destructive and needs to go NOW. It was always meaningless, politicians just needed it make the bunkum strategies they were using look effective.
Have been following this thread and am so pleased to see that so many posters have maintained thoughtful arguments (apart from a couple).
My veiw FWIW is that education of children and young people is the most important activity a society can undertake. Too important, perhaps to self regulate. The history of self regulation of activities in this country has been pretty poor. So, we need an outside regulator. Ideally, it should be totally independent and free from political interference and influence, as should education. But here were are either in cloud cuckoo land or Finland!
Sure, Ofsted is not ideal, nor has it ever been perfect and it probably never will be. But it is better than nothing. I have suffered 6 Ofsted inspections in my career, 4 of them as a Headteacher. I had very little argument with the findings of any of them and pretty much found the inspection teams knowledgeable and professional. There are horror stories around. With 20,000 state schools in the country, that is hardly surprising.
I think in some ways Ofsted is going in the right direction, there is more focus on class teaching and much less on policies and paperwork. My last inspection saw discussion, agreement and disagreement, but it was most certainly a two way process. Some people complain they rely too much on RoL etc, but there is little other data for them to use.
Schools need to be accountable, what we do is too important for us not to be.
Just my opinion.
Quietgenious mentions the high level of support staff in a 1200 pupil school, including: 45 TAs, 4CSs, 2HLTAs, 6 secretaries plus an HT PA, 4 data management staff, 6 IT managers/support staff, etc.
Staff employed to assist teaching are front line staff helping deliver education, which is what schools are for, so this is a good investment. But 4 staff involved with data management, costing probably £75,000 with on-costs is worth thinking about again. Probably one of the IT staff spends most of their time keeping their admin IT system working on top of this cost, so we are closer to £90,000. What do these staff produce that is worth this amount? Is this making as much impact on the education that pupils receive as the TAs for example? Probably not.
Schools need to manage a lot of data but if a school is spending this sort of money it really needs to be sure that the systems they are using are up-to-date and earning their keep, and that the school isn't paying too much just to keep the IT systems working properly.
If schools are having to make people redundant it shouldn't be front line staff.
Hi Backdog99 and others who have had decent experiences with Ofsted.
I still feel that reports on education should be qualitative, identifying unacceptable aspects and describing (ideally using standard referenced frameworks where possible) the aspects of education observed.
I feel that once you rate teaching and learning on a 1-4 scale you lose a great deal and do a great deal of harm
It's not done in other countries for exactly these reasons
So this question goes out to the people who have had mainly positive experiences with Ofsted
Would your experiences have been worse had teaching and learning and so on been reported on in an organised descriptive way rather than by gradings?
Or would it have been better?
If the latter, you can still find the campaign for sensible reform to Ofsted on Facebook or on this forum. Even though Gove has missed this opportunity to do a sane job.
If the former, I'd be really interested to hear why - either on the campaign pages or on this thread.
Is there perhaps a Quality Assurance Plan(s) which is/are practical and easy to maintain that you could recommend? Will be much appreciated. Thanks