16 May 2014

Our Ofsted Meeting

There’s the formal meeting, briefing papers, agenda and minutes. And there’s the informal meeting where none of the above applies.

Heather Leatt and I, as additional inspectors, met Mike Cladingbowl, National Director of schools at Ofsted. For an informal meeting. This is how it went:

We had asked on Twitter whether there were things which colleagues would like us to raise with Mike. So we started with those:

  • Assessment and judging progress without levels
  • Governance
  • Safeguarding, behaviour and safety
  • Lesson observations
  • The future of inspections

We began by talking about something that concerns many of you, which is the way in which progress will be inspected and judged without national curriculum levels. Mike’s response was that this is an opportunity for teachers.  There is guidance in the pipeline, but inspectors will continue to focus on the sorts of things they always have. This includes looking at the curriculum, how well it suits the pupils and if it builds on what they know.  Inspectors will consider the system used to assess pupils’ work formatively and summatively to see if it is coherent.  They will want to know if it is used well by senior leaders to track and monitor progress and by teachers to inform lesson planning.  There is now (and will continue to be) a greater emphasis on inspectors looking at work in pupils’ books and folders to see what assessment and progress looks like. One implication of this may be that in the future, where practical, inspection teams will include a range of subject specialists. 

However, with regard to the million dollar question, at the moment there is no new information from the DfE on how KS2 SATs will be scored.

As far as governance is concerned, Mike ruled out a separate judgement being given.  In the new style reports, the quality of governance is given a separate paragraph under leadership and management and this can include a different judgement from that given to the school’s leaders.  The consultation on separate judgements for sixth forms and EYFS has now come to an end and it is possible that these will be reinstated.

In January, Ofsted made changes to the way in which behaviour and safety are reported.  While there is the usual overall judgement given for the two aspects, they are also reported on separately.  Safeguarding sits within leadership and management, but we also wanted to know if (and when) it impacts on the behavior and safety judgment.  Mike acknowledged that this was an area that needed further clarification, which is now being sought.

We then moved on to the hot topic of lesson observations and the quality of teaching grade.  Mike clarified inspection practice in this area in his briefing document in March.  To be clear, inspectors do not grade individual lessons, but the quality of teaching over time.  Despite his clarification, there is still evidence that some schools use the Ofsted criteria to judge individual lessons, and Heather and I voiced our concerns about this and its impact on teachers, which Mike shared entirely.  Will there be more changes to this area?  Watch this space for further developments!

We chatted about the future of inspections too.  Now that Ofsted has fulfilled its brief to re-inspect all legacy ‘satisfactory’ schools, Mike confirmed that there will be fewer inspections in the future, but it remains to be seen what these will look like at this stage. 

We also discussed the ‘tone’ of inspections. We made the case that this is highly stressful for all involved and that inspection teams should verbalise their commitment to being as open, frank, polite and humane as possible.

We also raised some other issues where we didn’t make notes because while they are important they will be hatched in due course.  And from the look on Mike Cladingbowl’s face, fairly swiftly. This is a man who doesn’t hang about.

We also met briefly with Sir Michael Wilshaw. He cuts to the chase too.

More to follow….

 

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