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ofsted feedback

Discussion in 'Ofsted inspections' started by imateachertoo, Oct 31, 2010.

  1. The worse thing teachers can do is tell SMT what they got from Ofsted. It means if you got unsatisfacory it could lead down the path to be put on capabilities. You don't have to go for the feedback and Ofsted are not allowed to tell the names of teachers and their grades.
  2. littlerussell

    littlerussell New commenter

    Wrong on all counts.
    OFSTED inspectors go directly to the Head's office when they see an unsatisfactory lesson. The HT has the right to know why the school is potentially being placed in a category. Most inspectors, as a matter of courtesy, do the same for outstanding. I've been through four inspections under the current, and previous regimes, and on all occasions the Headteacher knew the grading before I did, thankfully because I got the correct one of the two above options.
    In many inspections, OFSTED will conduct joint observations with the Headteacher and compare notes afterwards as a way of checking the HT's ability to judge a lesson.
    Schools are *not* allowed to put staff into capability proceedings as a result of OFSTED evidence. OFSTED and the unions are all quite clear on this. It is appropriate that a headteacher will want to conduct further observations - within the limits allowed - to establish whether a teacher graded unsatisfactory is actually so, and this can lead to capability.
    If you, or someone you know, is in capability proceedings as a direct result of OFSTED, then
    (i) They should go to their union to challenge this
    (ii) The school has nowhere near enough evidence, from one observation, to conduct any form of proceedings, formal or informal.

  3. I am not disputing your knowledge of the Ofsted procedure and would like to know more. But I have been through many inspections. the last one in April, there was one 'unsatisfactory or to use the new jargon inadequate' lesson, not 'accounted' for, because a number of teachers decided not to go for their feedback.
    From your reckoning the head knew about it, the grade 4 lesson and the member of staff, but did not 'observe' that member of staff, because she only observed all the lessons graded 4 less one. So say we had 5, grade 4s but only 4 teachers were observed i.e the ones that 'admitted' or knew they got a 4. So you are saying she could to go to a teacher and say 'You got a 4 so I will be observing you like the others who got a 4 because Ofsed has named you? Wouldn't that teacher have the right to say, 'show me the evidence or you are picking on me'. Would the head then be able to, or forced to if it lead to a grievance procedure, show that teacher the Ofsted written evidence naming that teacher?
    I assumed that Ofsted reported, to the head, how many were in each grade but did not give the names of individuals. Maybe I am mistaken. I thought the procedure was an inspector could say 'I've just observed say, a P.E. lesson and it was unsatisfactory because...' but not give the name of a particular individual. However, because they tell the head which lessons they are observing then it can be obvious which teacher is involved. But know names are mentioned.
    Maybe I am mistaken.
  4. Lesson observation should be something that schools routinely do as part of an ongoing programme to support good teaching. It is an entitlement of teachers to receive support when it is needed. Observation is not a punishment, but a sign of a school that is undertaking effective self-evaluation. If observation is a rare event it raises the stakes. One inadequate lesson is easily accounted for in a series of lessons that can be graded as good.
    Inspectors only have time to sample lessons. It could be that the sample hits the lesson that was not so good. The important thing is that the headteacher can place that sample against a broader picture.
    Of course names will be mentioned. Can you imagine a conversation from an inspector's feedback where it can be possible to not exemplify the grading and somehow avoid pointing to a particular class? Headteachers need to know, long before an inspection, about the quality of lessons taught across the school. They aren't doing their job if they don't know this.
    Teachers too need to be able to point to lessons that they have taught and the grades that would describe that lesson. A teacher should know how any lesson they teach would be graded. Lessons should be planned in the knowledge of those characteristics that describe an effective lesson.
    This is actually all just common sense. Making an issue out of sample lesson for whatever reason is unnecessary in such circumstances. Expecting confidentiality implies that one knows that the lessons we are teaching are not good, but we want inspectors to keep that fact private. This is not being very realistic.
  5. littlerussell

    littlerussell New commenter

    Inspectors are certainly required to report unsatisfactory lessons, and to ascertain whether the HT has evidence either that this is not usual for that teacher (ie lots of positive previous observations), whether support is in place (if the teacher has been unsatisfactory before), or whether the head just doesn't know. It would be very difficult for them to follow this up if they were not naming names.
    Of course, we are assuming that every inspector does as they are supposed to do here, which is not necessarily the case. It could be that, in your case, there was a slip up somewhere and the inspector didn't report back to the HT. It could be that the HT knows perfectly well who it is and knows that this is a capable teacher who has been observed loads and is usually OK, so the HT doesn't feel that it needs following up. It could be a member of SLT and the HT is covering their back. Or it could be, as you say, that the inspector didn't want to name names, although this isn't normal.
    A teacher wouldn't get very far with grievance since harassment needs to be sustained to be worth a grievance - you can't "harrass" someone once. The initial observation after the OFSTED unsatisfactory wouldn't be harrassment, since it's a one-off. If that observation was then unsatisfactory, then that gives them grounds to follow up further at an informal support level, which equally is not harrassment since it has a real basis. I can only see a case for harrassment if the HT repeatedly went back to an OK teacher who got an OFSTED unsatisfactory (and therefore had no real reason for doing so). This would suggest that the HT was trying to "get" them despite repeated evidence that there wasn't a problem.
    In terms of capability, the initial OFSTED should not be a factor. The HT's follow-up observation can be the trigger if that is found to be unsatisfactory. Even if the HT mentions the OFSTED in the capability proceedings, they are likely to still be on "safe" ground because of the evidence generated by their own observation.
    What is key here, is whether the teacher(s) in question are or are not regularly churning out unsatisfactory lessons. If they are, then the HT has a duty to deal with that, through the appropriate capability procedings (which should start with a process of support and shouldn't be aimed towards a predetermined conclusion such as getting rid of the teacher). If they are not usually unsatisfactory, then the HT is likely to establish this very quickly in their own observations and leave them alone.
    If an inspector tells the HT that the children in their school are losing out because of a teacher who is not enabling them to make process, what else would you expect a head do other than check that out for themselves?

  6. In the Ofsted guidance for inspecting schools it states that they should 'ensure that the headteacher is aware that Ofsted's evidence from lesson observations, whether joint or otherwise, cannot be used as evidence in competency/disciplinary proceeedings'. So it if a head did mention it the union would have a field day.
    Working in a school were the SMT ethos is blame the teacher, and harassment and bullying is rife you have to be on your toes to fight harassment and/or bullying. So the follow up is also deemed 'unsatisfactory' giving 'grounds for capability. Well in the real world bringing up 'where is your evidence that my Ofsted lesson was 'unsatisfactory', is a viable reason to stop harassment and/or bullying. Equally, asking for the head to produce such written evidence and/or 'can you write to the inspector for written confirmation of the 'unsatisfactory' lesson. Well what head would do that. So at the 'capability or disciplinary hearing' the head would appear to be harassing and/or bullying that teacher. Very Lawyer speak but.
    On the grounds of 'harassing someone once'. A person would not have a leg to stand on, in a 'sexual harassment case' or 'racial harassment case' by saying it was only once. And what, 'I want do it again', well their cards would be marked.

  7. littlerussell

    littlerussell New commenter

    I don't normally get into arguments here, but ...
    1. OFSTED tell the Head that there is a problem with a particular teacher.
    2. The Head goes in there to have a look by observing (2). The HT does not need a reason or written evidence from OFSTED to do this. They just can.
    3. If (2) is unsatisfactory, then capability is launched. If the HT happens to mention (1) in the proceedings, the union will (rightly) tell them that they can't. So the Head will just talk about (2).
    (2) is not harrassment. The Headteacher conducting an observation once is not harrassment.
    (3) is not harrassment, since the justification for the HT's actions is (2).
  8. keyboard2

    keyboard2 Established commenter

    Who are OFSTED?
  9. Any HT putting a teacher on Capability on the basis of one observation alone would be taken to the cleaners by any half decent union rep. And anyway, to do so would probably be against the LA guidance. It certainly would be in my Authority.
  10. That is what I am trying to get to the bottom of.
    Does an Ofsted inspector tell the head, the name say, Ms Smith teacher say Art/humanities/Reor whatever, had an unsatisfactory lesson? In other words names that teacher?
    So the HT knows? the name of the teacher who has had an unsatisfactory Ofsted lesson (1). This means he observes said teacher (2) and deems, this unsatisfactory and as a result starts capability procedures. Teacher has had 2 unsatisfactory lessons, but 1 of them is an Ofsted one, which cannot be used to put teacher on capabilities (Ofsted advice), then that teacher has been put on capabilities because of 1 lesson i.e the 2nd. one by HT.
    So after one unsatisfactory lesson the teacher is on capabilities?
    I am not trying to have an argument, just some clarification.

  11. It is an important point, so worth exploring.

    LittleRussell is more up-to-date about inspection arrangements than I am, but when I was involved with Ofsted work we reported back on 'The Teaching'. Note the impersonal nature of this phrase.
    If the teaching seen in a subject area covered the range from unsatisfactory to excellent (as it was then) with most teaching being good (for example) then this would be exemplified with referring to examples seen in lessons. In the days of subject reports such examples would be included in the report.
    So the intention is to refer to 'teaching' rather than 'teacher'. With unsatisfactory lessons ('inadequate' now) the evidence supporting the judgement would need to be more detailed. i,e. "In a year 9 class the teacher did not explain to the class at the beginning what the lesson was going to be about and didn't summarise what was learnt at the end." "Several pupils were off task for most of the lesson and the teacher did not appear to notice." "Behaviour by a group of boys was unacceptable and went unchecked." That sort of thing.

    If the headteacher didn't know which teacher's lesson this was referring to then there would be a question about their leadership. They might ask "You are referring to Mr Brown's class aren't you?" But such evidence wouldn't be useable outside of the report. It belongs to the inspection team. The school would need to follow up on inadequate teaching and would make its own decisions about Capability and the evidence that it would need to gather in order to support that process.

    One poor lesson doesn't equate with Capability. Capability would describe a persistent failure to perform to minimum professional standards and the first stage is always to provide help and support to see if that teacher can bring their performance up to scratch. We need to be dispassionate and think of pupils in their class when considering this. Think too what you would expect the school to do if it was your child in that teacher's class having their future careers damaged.
  12. littlerussell

    littlerussell New commenter

    Paragraph 43 of the guidance for inspectors.
    inform the headteacher where any inadequate teaching has been seen or where outstanding practice has been observed – teachers should be given feedback before the headteacher talks to them about judgements made by inspectors; inspectors should exercise caution in planning lesson observations that involve teachers subject to capability procedures, in order not to compromise those procedures

    The second part, after the dash, seems to imply that individuals are (or can be) named.
    With regard to whether a teacher can be placed into capability after 1 poor observation by the Headteacher (not OFSTED). The first stage of capability is classed as "informal support" and the records it generates can only be used if the teacher moves into "formal capability" (when LA Human Resources become involved). The unions would expect to see plenty of evidence that the teacher had received support prior to the launch of formal procedures.
    The second stage (formal) creates paperwork which can be used to eventually dismiss the teacher, and which is normally disclosed in the teacher's reference.
    A teacher would not usually move to "formal" without going through "informal" first. Since placing a teacher in "informal" has no direct consequences (it isn't maintained on the teacher's record or quoted in references), the unions cannot really prevent anyone going into this stage, as the employee hasn't been "disadvantaged" in any way.
    If the person in question has moved immediately to the formal stages (weekly/fortnightly written targets and the involvement of HR), then that is an issue in itself. If they have been placed on "informal" capability, then that is less dramatic and therefore less of an issue.
    Again, I agree with the OP's statement that the OFSTED inspection should not be quoted in evidence, but can trigger the observation (2) which is. Personally, I would expect that it would depend on the nature of the problems whether one observation can move to informal capability. If it identifies issues which are clearly long term (books show that curriculum is not being taught) or where behaviour is poor enough to create H&S issues, then I think informal capability would be right. If the lesson was rather poorly explained or lacked focus, then it would be more sensible to see if this was a trend before beginning informal procedings.
    My knowledge and experience of this, by the way, is as a member of SLT who was designated to support a teacher in capability proceedings in order to offer a "positive" support while the HT dealt with the issues in a more direct way. This has given me a fairly detailed understanding of the issues, as I was supporting her in trying to meet the demands placed on her (she was not a union member).
  13. Is that the same now? It begins to clarify my enquiry. If two Year 9 lessons are observed, and the grade 4 is not identified by a teachers name, and both the teacher's do not go for their feedback. Then the only person that knows with certainty is the Ofsted inspector.
    Is the Ofsted inspector allowed to say, 'yes'?
    However, which causes more 'damage' to 'their future careers' one solitary teacher who for half a lesson may display 'unsatisfactory' moments or the constant poor leadership of the school? My understanding of the new regime is that inadequate leadership and management alone, would not lead to special measures. If the Ofsted inspectors feel that the leadership is inadequate then they will 'look for' 'poor teaching' to justify putting a school in special measures.
    Correct me if I am wrong.
  14. littlerussell

    littlerussell New commenter

    Schools go into a category if they are not, overall, providing a good enough education, or if there are serious weaknesses which compromise the safety of the children (ie behaviour, safeguarding, Health & Safety). SLT are accountable for these outcomes.
    If SLT are totally useless, but the staff pull together and make it happen for the kids, then you are right, SLT survive because the standard of education at the front line is acceptable. OFSTED will judge individuals along the way, both classroom teachers and the SLT, but the actual report is about the school in general.
    To be honest, the basic format of an inspection means they are unlikely to even notice constant poor leadership if it's not reflected in the classrooms and results. They will do a half hour interview with the HT (who would have to be incredibly ineffective not to survive that) and then disappear off to look at results and teaching. How would they know about the issues with SLT if it's not evident in either?
    What does happen much more frequently is the inverse. In a small (e.g. primary school) with two or three poorly performing staff, but a very capable head, they may deem L&M inadequate because of what they see in the classrooms. Whether that is right or wrong probably depends a lot on the individual situation of the school

  15. The judgement on 'leadership' is set out in the Ofsted Evaluation Schedule. It focuses on their direction and their systems for setting targets, tracking, monitoring and analysing the impact of teaching.
    It is true that if pupils are doing well then it will tend to suggest that the leadership is good, but leadership is seen as more than SLT. It extends to everyone with responsibilies. So if staff felt that a head was ineffective, for example, but that didn't stop the school from achieving good results, then leadership (by those achieving the good results) must be good.

    Coming back to the question of what happens when inadequate teaching is seen, it will go into the report simply as 'some of the teaching is inadequate'. How the head accounts for this at the time will tell the inspectors something about the head's leadership. If they can't set it against other observations in that subject then they aren't monitoring effectively. If they were monitoring effectively they would know if this was an anomoly - or perhaps an indicator of capability.
    Itis still the case that if a sampled lesson is graded as inadequate then the teacher themselves should be able to place that in the context other lessons they have taught which have been graded as good (by the school, their subject leader, or themselves). It is only when observation is a rarity and that teachers are unfamiliar with the evaluation criteria for gradng teaching that problems arise.
  16. In my recent experience of OFSTED we were not named to the HT but were asked to report to the head the grade we were given by our inspectors.
  17. So if you do not want to 'tell the head' then you cannot be forced to. If you inform the head that you had an unsatisfactory lesson and this leads to more observations then why should you tell. Turkeys voting for Christmas springs to mind.
  18. I can sympathise with your viewpoint imateachertoo but it just feels that you are making too much of one observation. I know it can sting if the only lesson Ofsted see is not your best one, but that is the problem with sampling. If you feel that this was not a typical lesson then you just need to get over it and remember that Ofsted and reality are not the same things.

    If it is going to play on your mind, then why not encourage SLT to observe one of your lessons to put your mind at ease that they don't think your single experience of Ofsted equates to the start of capability proceedings.

  19. I have been OFSTED 6 times and never once had a grade 4 lesson, mostly good even under the new criteria.
  20. keyboard2

    keyboard2 Established commenter

    Bloody hell! Really?!? I always get inadequate often prefixed with 'deeply'. I wish I had your skills... Particularly at 1.22p.m. in an afternoon!

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