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Will Ofsted’s focus on exercise book do more harm than good?

Discussion in 'Education news' started by TES_Rosaline, Jun 28, 2019.

  1. TES_Rosaline

    TES_Rosaline Administrator Staff Member

    ‘Yesterday Ofsted published a report on the reliability of using workbook scrutinies as part of its judgement on the quality of education in schools. It may not be surprising that Ofsted’s report, looking at something it wants to do, found that overall there was “moderate” reliability in making these judgements based on work seen in exercise books; but even it had to concede this was far weaker in secondary schools than primary schools where specialist subject knowledge comes to the fore.

    As a teacher, I am less concerned with the reliability of these judgements than I am with the distorting effect that this scrutiny will have on our practice. The age-old problem of “doing things for Ofsted” is raising its head again.‘

    Mark Enser is head of geography and research lead at Heathfield Community College in East Sussex.


    What do you think? Do you agree with Mark Enser? If yes, no, why?
  2. Mathsteach2

    Mathsteach2 Established commenter

    Following on from the practice recommended by Nuffield Science in the 1960's when only rough note-making was advocated during lessons (and can now be done on an electronic device), Ofsted's idea is obsolete. No modern teacher, primary or secondary subject specialists, should keep their pupils seated in desks using only their handwriting skills. Gone are the old days when we witnessed the quality of handwriting deteriorate through the secondary years.
    A piece of work properly presented, using whatever resources are available, which may contain some hand-written notes (written at competition level of course) can be assessed, but 'exercise' (?) books, definitely not. Teachers complain about the amount of marking they have to do. It serves them right for using an obsolete teaching practice.
  3. Lalex123

    Lalex123 Established commenter

    How does this apply to music, PE, DT, art, drama and all the other subjects that are assessed outside of a book?!
    Catgirl1964 and bessiesmith like this.
  4. moscowbore

    moscowbore Lead commenter

    Teachers are not choosing to use ridiculous marking. The excessive marking is foisted upon em by senior management who are convinced that multi coloured marking will impress OFSTED.
    thyr, Catgirl1964, bevdex and 4 others like this.
  5. Mathsteach2

    Mathsteach2 Established commenter

    Senior management never interfered with my Nuffield Science lessons, the kids were up on their feet for the whole lesson doing things instead of writing. And they still got good grades in their GCSE. The lessons were often observed and complimented for the on-task activities of the students. I guess it's down to the poor quality of teachers nowadays, or the lack of quality discipline in schools.
    alex_teccy likes this.
  6. moscowbore

    moscowbore Lead commenter

    In my opinion, it is mostly down to the poor quality of the management who punish anything deemed un-OFSTED.
  7. MrMedia

    MrMedia Star commenter

    It’s going down as a blood bath on Twitter. It’s so easy to game that people are openly saying it is nonsense. Ofsted are facing an existential crisis. No matter how much pseudo research they do, they can’t actually justify their methods or arriving at a grade.
  8. Piscean1

    Piscean1 Senior commenter

    I don't think it's fair to say it's down to poor quality teachers. You were lucky to have an SLT who didn't interfere and to be able to teach in the way you thought best.

    For most of us, the reality is a list of "non-negotiables" stipulating what a lesson should contain, how often work should be completed in books and in what format work should be done. These things are monitored on drop ins and scrutinies. The consequences for not doing them can be severe. Professional autonomy isn't really a thing any more.
  9. Happygopolitely

    Happygopolitely Established commenter

    So its back to :

    The exercise book not really being for the student at all - but for an audience of overpaid, too scared to teach critics called Ofsted. So now they want all books to look the same year after year. Its called rote teaching and rote marking. Welcome to the Gradgrind approach - gradually grinding both teachers and students down to performing robots.And to the 'perfect book virus' which will no doubt spread far and wide.

    And just take a look at Ofsted's written reports to see the hypocrisy here. They are ofted copy and paste jobs badly put together and with the same parrot-like phrases. Ofsted it seems are not supporters of good teaching - they only support making all teachers stressed.
    Last edited: Jun 28, 2019
    Jamvic, Lala24, Catgirl1964 and 5 others like this.
  10. MrMedia

    MrMedia Star commenter

    The ofsted grade masquerades as a proxy for the school. All the work of a school over several years and across a constantly moving and changing group of people boiled down into a single number. It’s the same for an exercise book. Stop trying to convert the richness of school work into a proxy.
    Ofsted should be a compliance check body focused on child protection, off rolling, SEND provision, LGBT tolerance etc. Leave teaching to the teachers.
    Jamvic, snowyhead, Mr_Frosty and 2 others like this.
  11. moscowbore

    moscowbore Lead commenter

    The thing which effectively ended my career in English state schools was the "Verbal Feedback Given" stamp which I was given by my line manager.
    "What do I do with this?", I asked.
    "Use it in student books when you go over their written work.", I was told.
    "I teach Computing. 99% of my feedback to students takes place at a computer. My students rarely produce written work on paper.", I said innocently.
    "Oh well, that needs to change because OFSTED need to see feedback, evidence that the student has worked on your feedback, evidence of interventions if the student grade is below their flightpath grade , all in different colours .......".

    Truly, I have never met anyone, except OFSTED inspectors, who can justify the existence of OFSTED.
  12. Happygopolitely

    Happygopolitely Established commenter

    Hypocritical Ofsted types need to go. The only feedback they seem to really care about are their pay packets and bonuses.
    Catgirl1964 likes this.
  13. Rott Weiler

    Rott Weiler Star commenter Forum guide

    In fairness, Ofsted repeatedly said until they were blue in the face that they did not require these things and schools should not do them. It's the school's management who were responsible for that nonsense, not Ofsted.
    snowyhead, Catgirl1964 and bajan like this.
  14. moscowbore

    moscowbore Lead commenter

    I totally agree. The point I am making is that the management were giving me extra work based on their assumptions about what OFSTED would be looking for.

    My opinion is that this totally pointless extra multi-colour marking will continue until OFSTED grade a school as RI for pointlessly adding to the workload of staff leading to unacceptable work-life balance.
  15. Piscean1

    Piscean1 Senior commenter

    I would love to see this happen.
    bevdex and agathamorse like this.
  16. Happygopolitely

    Happygopolitely Established commenter

    In all fairness though Ofsted at the same time used to highlight triple marking as an exemplar aporoach. Then changed their approach. They also used to collect in exercise books and examine them closely. Such is the nature of hypocritical well paid critics..
    Jamvic and agathamorse like this.
  17. MrMedia

    MrMedia Star commenter

    Even today, they continue with their obsession on doing book looks and wanting to see last year's books. Such nonsense that dreams are made of.
    agathamorse and Scintillant like this.
  18. moscowbore

    moscowbore Lead commenter

    My last OFSTED was nearly 2 years ago. A room was filled with student books and folders. I even had to print out student programming work and annotate it to "prove" I had given feedback. The inspectors spent most of a morning going through the work. We received no feedback except that all was satisfactory.
    agathamorse likes this.
  19. Rott Weiler

    Rott Weiler Star commenter Forum guide

    Ofsted have repeatedly denied they ever said that. Do you have a link to where they said it?
  20. Christopher  Curtis

    Christopher Curtis Occasional commenter

    Where’s Kafka when you need him? Book scrutinies, learning walks, observations, multi-colour marking (except for evil red), OFSTED itself – the whole box-and-dice is sheer, unadulterated nonsense to the power of a Googolplex. Looseleaf has been standard practice in high schools since I began teaching 45 years ago. There were no books for anyone to scrutinise. If a student did work in an exercise book, I asked for the relevant pages to be torn out for correction. Why carry a pile of books when a folder of papers is sufficient? Why deprive the students of a book to write in while the correction is done? Why make studens carry around a pile of books, one for each subject, when one folder can cover the lot?

    We do not have OFSTED or an equivalent and have not done so for about 40 years. No one, not even the most right-wing think tank, suggests we should create one. Just abolish it, and no, you don’t need to come up with a replacement.
    snowyhead likes this.

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