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lesson deemed "inadequate"

Discussion in 'Ofsted inspections' started by pleasetryharder, May 21, 2011.

  1. I'm feeling really terrible following HMI monitoring visit. I was told that one of my lessons - inspector present for less than half an hour - was judged to be "inadequate" due to lack of progress because a group of children took too long to settle down to work while I was working with another group. I admit this did happen (I noticed during the lesson, and was onto it straight away) and I feel absolutely terrible about it. My other observed lesson was fine, I've never had anything said to me like this before in over 15 years of teaching, and I feel I've let down the school, the children and parents.
    . Anyone had this happen to them? What did you do about it? I'm thinking about having a chat with HT, asking for some help/training to improve my teaching. What do other poeple think?
  2. Oops sorry I meant "people". (I can spell, really)
  3. A spot lesson observation is rarely representative of a person's teaching over time. During inspections, teaching is usually planned with greater care than normal and more often will suggest a grade that is better than the teaching of this person over the year.
    The trouble with being observed by an inspector is that the stakes are too high. If a teacher knows that a lesson grade is unrepresentative then the correct response is to invite further observations; but if the inspector is gone then the grade they judged sticks in the record.

    Lesson observations need to take place frequently and should make close use of the Ofsted criteria for teaching, progress, attainment, and behaviour. Then, any spot observations can be placed against those already on the record. The very least that schools should do is provide teachers with a good checklist with those criteria so that they can think about them when planning and conducting lessons. This way everyone will be able to will start thinking like an inspector and spot things in the lesson that would provide positive or negative evidence of the effectiveness of the lesson.
    If a teacher knows that their teaching is sound then they shouldn't be derailed by one untypical observation. No harm has been done. Pupils aren't going to fall down by one lesson where progress may have been less than normal. The headteacher will know this to be the case and that is what matters. Just move on and look forward to showing the next observer the evidence of good teaching, and that you have responded positively to any points for development that have previously been noted.
  4. I've just realised I used far too many "just"s in that first post. I'd not be happy if my students did that!
  5. Someone watching one lesson isn't going to provide evidence that one is in the wrong job or not. There are many more important things that will tell someone that this difficult career that we have chosen is for us. Few people can do it - it takes many skills. Spending hours planning and then things not going to plan is common. One thing that is sure is that we will get big highs and bigger lows with equal frequency in teaching.
    Over time, are pupils learning? Have you made a difference to their lives?
    Do you think you have done as good a job as other teachers could have done with them?
    Yes? - you are good. Now look at the criteria for outstanding.
  6. Yes, I have been there too, for similar reasons as well.
    I did exactly as you suggest you might and asked for some more observations - the lessons SLT saw were all deemed 'good'. My HT was very supportive, but my department less so, in fact people avoided talking to me about it, which made it worse. TBH I am still gutted about the experience (happened last Xmas) and feel quite 'tarnished' by it. Common sense tells us that everyone has dreadful moments in teaching and the fact that HMI were in the room during one of those moments should not make it a career-defining experience. I too have been teaching a good few years and have never had an obs like it, and I felt for weeks afterwards that I was not worthy of teaching the children in the room. I think that the more 'good' lessons I can get under my belt, the easier it will be to bear, so I just need to hang in there and try not to screw up again.
    It is a really horrible experience to have to undergo, but it isn't the end of the world.
  7. mpc


    First of all, my heart goes out to you.
    One 'inadequate' lesson does not a bad teacher make and you have let no-one down! Observations are far too 'high-stakes' and are really must a moment in time. To my mind, the important thing is that you yourself realized things weren't right and did something about it. It would be different if you didn't 'agree' that things had gone slightly awry.
    I had a failing lesson about 15 years ago. It does knock your confidence, there's no doubt about it, but life moves on. I've since been subjected to quite a few Ofsteds/HMIs and never experienced any further difficulty (fingers crossed, eh?).
    Talk it all through with a trusted colleague or friend and a bottle of wine/box of chocolates and leave it in the past.
    Best wishes,

  8. This is a common experience for many colleagues at the moment and since Ofsted introduced their new framework. I am quite sad to see little questioning of Ofsted judgements in these posts. Teachers must be the profession with the lowest self esteem. When someone comes in and starts to beat you up, you join in!

    The initial post came from a teacher who has taught conscientiously and without problems for 16 years. A half hour observation that deems you inadequate says more about the unreasonable judgement of the inspection process than about you. After 20 years of teaching I was graded satisfactory and we all know what that grade means. I have enough faith in my ability to know when a system is just punitive and destructive and petty.

    It is a horrible experience I agree - but I don't buy into the highly restrictive and not always appropriate Ofsted dictat about how to teach and I don't think I am screwing up at all. My students are well taught in my opinion and their results reflect this. I don't stop for a mini plenary every 10 minutes and I have been known to forego the starter. Shock horror.

    Give them time - Ofsted will change their minds and we will be given a new set of bright shiny hoops to jump through. In the mean time - self belief seems to be in short supply. Well done for coming through a difficult experience - don't let it stick.
  9. Ofsted inspectors are only there to match the criteria for judging a lesson to what they see during the lesson. They have never defined how to teach or the methods a teacher uses, only the impact of a teacher's choices. The criteria are published and they have been accepted by the education community as being good criteria. Although the inspection process is under review it is unlikely that the criteria will change, but what will change is that there will be a greater emphasis on evaluating what goes on in lessons.
    Good school leaders will make sure that all staff understand the criteria, will give their teachers a checklist to think about when planning and delivering lessons, and will observe lessons often using these same criteria. If a teacher is worried that they don't know what an inspector will look for in their lesson then their school leaders are not doing their job well.
    In fact, good school leaders should know what inspectors will say about a school's strengths and weaknesses before they arrive. If they don't know then this is probably not a good school. If they knew about their weaknesses they would be doing something about it.
  10. AngieHt has made some really valid points. I too am a Head and have seen many lessons some of which have been outstanding and a few not really up to scratch.
    The thing to remember is that this is a one off and if it is not representative of your teaching then you must not beat yourself up over it.
    Ask yourself 'what would I do differently if I were to teach it again?' If you have some answers then you are being reflective and that is good. If your answer is 'nothing' then you need help.
    Realistically we all have taught lessons that could have been better - and probably some thta were so amazing we grin for days about them. The real question is 'Am I doing my best for the children in my care?'
    If the answer is 'yes', reflect on the lesson and move on knowing that you are a good teacher!!
    We need more people who are concerned but don't be destructive about your self criticism!!
  11. I am surprised that your HT has not been to discuss your observation with you. You need support at times like this. I too have recently had the same occurrence. Let me put it all in context. A group of 6 yr olds were excited by the toys they were supposed to be increasing the prices of by 10p (for the toyshop) and 'played' with them before settling down!. I was told that the equipment ie the toys were far too exciting,I was told by the SIP they should have had a 'holding' exercise.... no real life experiences for them then!
    I was also devastated by the judgement made . The feedback was that everything else was outstanding but the lack of learning progress made by these 5 children in those 10 mins deemed the lesson inadequate. Having had time to reflect there are things I will ensure do not happen again ( This was not an inspection but SIP visit) however do keep the faith and remember that your lesson like mine was one out of 15 years good service( in my case 20yrs ) and statistically a minute proportion of all the fab ones you have done and will do. You have not let anyone down, there for the grace would go so many of your colleagues at possibly any given time.But just like me it has happened and you need to accept and then say you will not let this happen again to yourself. I am writing a critique upon my lesson for other colleagues so this does not happen to them.Sadly I feel this is not uncommon these days for this to happen. I have organised to see lessons in other settings to measure my own practice I know this will put it all in perspective. Time heals
  12. Tolchard

    Tolchard New commenter

    You have no reason to be upset or guilty following your lesson observation. Your self-doubt is based on a false premise; namely that tha Ofsted Inspectors are people of great wisdom and expertise who make accurate and meaningful judgments of the quality of lessons that they observe. This is, in fact, not the case.
    Those of us who had dealings with these fellows over the past 20 years or so will know that they are almost universally quite odious types. In fact, the very kind of person who become paid inspectors are the worst kind of hypocrites who got out of class teaching double quick because they found the job too stressful, most commonly as a consequence of not being able to control the behaviour of their pupils. More seriously, they are involved in a fundamentally dishonest exercise, having a vested interest in judging the quality of lessons to be worse than they genuinely believe them to be.

    The sensible thing to do is to approach the whole rotten charade with disdain. The next time they come, don?t bother to find out your grades.

    If I can conclude with a personal anecdote, one or the more ludicrous general criticisms that Ofsted made in a recent observation of our school was that there was ?too much teaching in lessons.?

    I rest my case.
  13. Tolchard

    Tolchard New commenter

    I'm pretty sure Ofsted don't ever prescribe a particular way of teaching. I thought they inspected the quality of learning not the methods. Am I wrong?

    Yes. Ofsted do indeed prescribe a particular method of teaching for every lesson they observe,
    Most notably that it conforms to a three-part structure, irrespective of whether that is appropriate for the lesson in question. Another example would be the requirement that all lessons (irrespective of subject or age group) include ?peer assessment?, a largely fatuous and often ridiculous exercise.
  14. Tolchard

    Tolchard New commenter

    "Time heals"

    Indeed. About 20 seconds should do it.
  15. This is among the saddest posts I have seen lately. I have repeatedly heard HMI say that there is no set pattern required, and that the '3 part lesson' requirement is a myth. As for peer assessment: yes it can be helpful if done well, and fatuous if done badly, as can lots of things, including 3 part lessons and mini-plenaries. That doesn't make them mandatory!
  16. wigy

    wigy New commenter

    I wish you would tell that to our management. They are giving us hoops to jump through. I am trying not to take the pi... Out of them as I try to practice the skills before the next ofsted visit. Due soon since we (them in charge) b.... Up the monitoring visit etc.

    It would be better if ofsted just arrived and took things as they are. Warts and all.
  17. Hi angieHT,
    Can you tell me where the latest Ofsted lesson criteria are published? I have been asked by many colleagues 'what makes an outstanding lesson?' However, Ofsted cannot give me the latest guidance because it is only in pilot form at the moment. Are we still working to the old criteria? Most people are under the impression that we have new criteria... Any ideas, is it really this illusive?
  18. I got an unsatisfactory in an HMI inspection earlier this term (never been below satisfactory despite school in special measures)

    If you think you have been hard done by try this - inspector in room for 7 minutes, 4 of them before the students turned up (school usually gives 5 mins to move between lessons), apparently inadequate due to wasted learning time.

    Smile sweetly, then make a big list of painful things to do to HMI and Ofsted when the revolution comes and forget about it.
  19. I have had the day from hell thanks to Ofsted. 8 years teaching with goods and even a couple of outstanding lessons under my belt and today got an inadequate! Feel gutted, ashamed and am worried about the impact it will have. Due to being heavily pregnant I am not class based at the moment but when the call came through was asked to teach a class I haven't got a clue about. Stupidly I agreed, wish I hadn't now! Did the best I could to research class in 24 hours but I knew it wouldnt be a my best lesson but was shocked to be given inadequate. I regularly observe lessons and am now questioningy judgements of others. I got done for additional support not used adequately, but didn't know I had them till 10 minutes before observation, and pitch. Totally gutted and don't know how I will walk in tomorrow with my head held high. Maybe the break with a baby to look after will help me get over it!
  20. Dear Alison
    The judgement of inadequate was on 'The Teaching'.
    It isn't a judgement on you over your whole career as a teacher.
    You should separate the two things.

    You explain yourself the circumstances of the observation.
    If you were watching this lesson wouldn't you have come to the same conclusion?
    The observer has no discretion here. They are simply applying the criteria.
    The grade for the lesson falls from the criteria.
    My advice is to accept the judgment and understand the reasons for it, and to acknowledge that the circumstances, which were not wholly under your control, lead to it.
    That is the explanation. The professional response is to acknowledge that 'That Lesson' was inadequate. Your track record of conducting good lessons and your continuation to do this establishes your personal record.

    If you take it personally then the danger is that your subsequent behaviour will diminish your record. Be proactive in accepting the judgment. Don't try to rubbish the inspector as so many people try to do in this situation. This would say a lot more about you than this untypical judgment on your lesson will.


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