Tag Archives: Inspection

New Ofsted in 10 Bullet Points

sec cameraDo you remember at school when you were getting on with group work and the teacher was roaming around the classroom, having a look, giving a nudge here and there? (we call it assessment in the moment now).

And do you remember that when she came within earshot of your table, you and your friends would seamlessly switch your conversation on to what it was supposed to be about. It was a psychic, unspoken and effortlessly coordinated move between you all which sadly involved raising your voices a little too much; speaking a bit too clearly (so she could hear you) and sadly, James looking right at her as the final giveaway that you hadn’t really been on task.

But never mind, your teacher had done exactly the same thing when she was at school.  And you still do it now in hands-on, experiential training sessions.

It’s one of the great complicities of education (and quantum physics): the observer affects the system (like those cameras in the picture). We all know it but we don’t talk about it. It’s like Ofsted. We are the tables chatting about the whole child; they are the teacher, expecting us to be discussing data. When they enter our orbit, we shift our focus. At least we did. At least they did. Hopefully, from September, we’ll all be on the same page.

I’ve read the final, sorry, proposed new inspection framework and it makes good sense. Not too sure about paragraph 227 but all in all, if those using it genuinely understand its intent, I’m sure their implementation of an inspection will have huge positive impact on teacher well-being and children’s future success.

Disclaimer: I am not Ofsted trained. I just pick up the pieces after they leave or help schools enact their recommendations or support the interpretations of their findings.

However, for what it’s worth, here is a 10-point summary of what you need to do when they roam your way:

1.      Know your subjects

2.      Have and articulate a whole-school ‘shared why’

3.      Stay legal

4.      Be able to justify choices and rationale

5.      Know your curriculum end points

6.      Sequence learning well

7.      Be flexible and design for pupil need and context

8.      Ensure the basics are really, really embedded

9.      Emphasise authentic long-term memory

10.   Show impact

I genuinely would like to hear from any inspectors using the new framework to see if and how they might adapt this.

Oh, and on another note:

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www.thinkingclassroom.co.uk

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Bake Offsted

Wagon Wheel

My grown up children made this. In fact they made twenty of them. They are wagon wheel biscuits inspired by last week’s Great British Bake Off. They let me eat one and I thoroughly enjoyed it. And not just because of its taste and texture. My wagon wheel makes a point about assessment and inspection.

Paul Hollywood and Prue Leith would slate this biscuit (and fair dues my 19 and 22 year old would slate them back). This biscuit would not stop any shows or elevate any star bakers. It would fail. It would bomb. It would not meet the success criteria:

  • It’s blackberry and apple jam not strawberry.
  • Chocolate is missing from the sides.
  • The marshmallow filling is bought fluff.

But let’s see this in a different way. My adult children lead separate lives at different universities. They were home together for once and chose to collaborate. They used homemade jam; fruit from our nearby field. They saved time buying fluff. They reduced calories by skipping the chocolate sides. They compromised looks for taste. They created a complex biscuit after several fails. They had fun, they connected, they became kids in the kitchen again. It was lovely to watch.

Non of this would count in GBBO but it has great value to me. And there’s the rub with school assessment and inspection. What do you value? What counts? What REALLY matters for the children we’re launching into the world. Does Ofsted see or just look?

Public accountability for public money: a necessary safeguard. But it’s not sufficient for authentic future-focussed education. Ofsted is expanding its focus: looking wider; moving on from simple, absolute measures. But what will the new criteria be? How well will official aims match personal and global needs?

Future thinkers list many skills and qualities likely needed for 21st Century employability: a handful – maths, empathy, data literacy, negotiation, collaboration, cognitive flexibility. These and more should be the central focus of inspection. I worry that we do an exceptional job inspecting the 1980s instead of using formative comment to shape the future. Consider this; most of the children you teach this week will be alive in the the 22nd century.

Every biscuit is a success, it just depends which criteria you value. Every child is a success, it just depends how you see them and if you’ve done more that take a cursory look.