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Ofsted - A word for those worrying!

Discussion in 'Primary' started by impulce, May 26, 2012.

  1. I have been worrying about Ofsted all year, and haven't been able to shake the little ball of nerves that had firmly lodged itself into my stomach. I heard so many horror stories about how horrific the new inspection framework was etc and was constantly trying to pre-empt what they might ask and generally getting myself into a tizz about it.
    Well, we got the call on Tuesday for Thursday and Friday and I can honestly say it WASN'T THAT BAD!
    It was my first Ofsted, and also my first on the SLT team as KS1 coordinator...due to upheaval in our leadership over the last few years, their emphasis was on the middle management and KS1 - EEK!
    We all know that obscene amounts of work go into it, most of us were in school at 6am, leaving at about 8 and working at home until god knows when. That was absolutely shattering.
    BUT..When they arrived, it really wasn't that bad. They introduced themselves in a briefing and the lead inspector was very human. Another caught my eye and smiled. I was flabbergasted that they were actually PEOPLE. I'm not sure what I expected! The lead spoke about how they weren't against us, that they knew we were nervous etc and was generally reassuring.
    I only had one 30 minute observation, and got my first 'good' in the 4 years I've been teaching which boosted my confidence for the rest of the inspection. As a member of SLT, the only thing I was expected to do was attend a 20 minute meeting with 3 other members of SLT, and basically talk the inspector through everything we'd done to lead the school and make sure they knew we were moving forward and capable of leading the team. It was, to put it bluntly, quite easy. We all chipped in and talked constantly for the 20 minutes to explain as much as we could! She then said we could leave things with her if we hadn't managed to say everything we wanted to - so I left her with a sheet I had prepared showing everything I had done to lead KS1 this year. She was friendly, interested and encouraging. We came out with no issues with leadership and management.
    Our headteacher handled ALL of the discussions around data - which was my fear.
    The thing to remember is that it is likely there are only going to be 2 or 3 inspectors, and you will only be observed a couple of times. (A couple of ours got 3 - they were the mixed age classes because this was one of Ofsteds concerns). A couple of half an hour observations is not that bad, and when they are not in your room you can relax a little bit and bring yourself back to your 'A-Game' when they walk through the door. By 11am Friday our observations were done - they weren't going to do anymore, and the rest of that day was spend in talks with the head and governors.
    The BIG thing that came out of ours was all around too much teacher talk, and extending the higher ability. I think teacher talk is currently a big thing.
    I needed to post for a couple of reasons;
    1) To de-Ofsted my brain!
    2) Because I have been a nervous wreck all year and for anybody else feeling like that, I thought I could perhaps offer some reassurance because so many spout horror stories afterwards.
    The worst part is all the work that goes in beforehand - make sure you are planned and organised and the actual experience of Ofsted will fly by.
    I'm off to go and enjoy my weekend now, minus that Ofsted-niggle that has been the bane of my life for far too long!

  2. That's a really helpful post, thank you.
    Can I ask 2 things?
    First what subject did they watch you teach?
    Second did any subject coordinators get interviewed?
  3. Glad Ofsted went well for you Impulce :) It makes such a difference when you get inspectors who act like humans rather than Ofsted automatons!
  4. They watched me teach Maths. It seemed to be quite an equal spread of Maths and Literacy. They watched one PE lesson that was mostly being led by an outside provider!
    The only 'emphasis' on reading I saw was when they asked for 3 Y2 children and 3 Y6 children and their bookbags/guided reading records etc, and listened to them read.
    Because we have mixed ability classes, they focussed in on these and they did have more observations as a result.

    As for subject coordinators, they spoke to the FS Phase leader alone, the safeguarding DSP alone, and then myself (KS1 phase leader), The KS2 phase leader who is also Literacy, and the Maths coordinator altogether. It wasn't our subjects/phases they quizzed us about, it was our leadership and management of the school. And they didn't really 'quiz' us - they just let us tell them everything we'd done!
    It will greatly differ depending on the issues within your school. With us they wanted to ensure our leadership was secure, look at our mixed year group classes and look into our issue with boys attainment.
  5. dc521

    dc521 New commenter

    While I wish to congratulate you, there is a note of caution that I think people must be aware of.
    Inspection teams still 'make their minds up' before they start the process. If you have poor results over the last five years, be prepared for some bloody hard times with Ofsted.
  6. I'm not saying it isn't hard. I just don't want people to live their lives with a shadow over them like I have done for the whole year. We were by no means in a great position but they were human and we survived.
  7. Congratulations on your ofsted! Were expecting ofsted anytime now and I teach a mixed year group so really worried :-S
    What mixed ages do you have? how many classes? What did they look at or comment on in particular?
  8. We have a 1/2 and a 3/4. They didn't say they were looking at anything specific - I think it was ensuring differentiation/appropriately stretching the HA - but to be honest I dont think it's different to any other class with a similar spread of abilities, regardless of age group. Extending Higher ability seemed to be quite a common thread with ours.
    They did get observed 3 times instead of 1/2 like everyone else though.
  9. If you came out with a good and everyone else came out as a good then yes nothing to worry about.
    If you school is satisfactory or below then you still need to worry. If you have had poor to middling SATS results for the last few years or you have had a dip the whole process will be designed to rip you apart to find the reason why.
    You should be worrying because if they can't find a valid reason then they will have to begin to blame the T&L that means even if you teach an outstanding lesson they will give you a satisfactory with good points.
    That means if some of your colleagues teach satisfactory lessons they will be given an inadequate.
    Be afraid - be very afraid - it's not rosy everywhere. Just because you had a decent time at it doesn't mean everyone else can rest on their laurels.
    Don't get me wrong I have had some great Ofsted experiences and through no fault of my own some terrible experiences.
  10. Im not saying that RegencyRob, not at all. I also never said what grading we got as I am not allowed to reveal that yet.
    All I am saying is it is NOT worth letting it take over your life and nearly making yourself ill with stress, like I did. Yes we were very lucky that we had a 'human' Ofsted team whom were very fair - but before I was under the impression that they didn't exist and that every Ofsted team were nasty pieces of work out to get us. I have realised that whilst in some cases that is true, it isn't always and we shouldn't spend months and months making ourselves worried sick.
  11. Unless you are on the edge of a category looking down - then you probably need to
  12. I'm sure your attitude is doing wonders for those people who are concerned about going into a category.
    Ofsted isn't fun. I don't agree with the process. And going into a category is very, very hard work. But NOTHING is worth making yourself ill over and I want to reassure people that not every Ofsted is as horrific as some have sounded.
    Now if you would take your desire to ensure every teaching is left cowering in a corner elsewhere, I would be grateful.
  13. I understand what you are saying but these teachers need to know Ofsted come in with an agenda - no matter what you do when they are in you still get the same outcomes.
    They base their findings on attainment - poor attainment - poor ofsted - even if you are an outstanding class and when the kids are in ur class you get them to move 4 sublevels - not great if the other teachers only take them 1 or 2 a year etc
    You know what I am saying! Of course I don't want people to make themselves ill but I still want them to see what Ofsted are - absolute ***!
  14. I agree with you on that one!
  15. I am a EYFS and KS1 co-ordinator and we are expecting OFSTED next year. Just wondered what sort of things were on the sheet that you left with the inspector to show what you had done to lead? I was not the co-ordinator at our last OFSTED so I want to make sure that I have the right kind of stuff ready.
  16. It was mostly things I'd done jointly with SLT.
    Moderation was a biggie for us so we'd done (or were planning to do) lots of that (Both baselining Y1s together, moderation with KS2, and moderation with FS)
    New guided reading planning/assessment formats in place
    Regular data analysis and interventions/booster groups arranged as a result
    I'd done monitoring (observations and pupil discussions) though this was actually as ICT leader.

  17. You can have low attainment and still be outstanding. Check out the Ofsted report on Shireland Collegiate Academy. A grade 4 for attainment, however, seems to be "low"and not "inadequate" as it is with other areas. Interesting eh?
  18. Great news Impulce! I remember how worried you were over the summer...
    Have a well-earned rest this half term...
    C x
  19. Seems to be the exception rather than the rule!
    It was judged to be inadequate 6 months earlier. Someone who is a little pessimistic could possibly view this as Ofsted bolstering the policy of Academy federations.
  20. WolfPaul

    WolfPaul Occasional commenter

    The inspection you refer to was under the old OFSTED framework. It is not possible to have low attainment and get an overall outstanding grade under the new framework which came into force at the beginning of this year.

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