It’s hard to miss all the talk of Ofsted and its proposals: almost on a weekly basis, we hear of Sir Michael Wilshaw, the Chief Inspector, and his ambitions to raise standards in schools. There’s currently a consultation process which sets out seven proposals for changes to the way schools are inspected. From September 2012, it is proposed that:
- Schools cannot be judged ‘outstanding’ unless their teaching is ‘outstanding’.
- Schools will only be deemed to be providing an acceptable standard of education where they are judged to be ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’.
- A single judgement of ‘requires improvement’ will replace the current ‘satisfactory’ judgement and ‘notice to improve’ category.
- Schools judged as ‘requires improvement’ will be subject to a full re-inspection earlier than is currently the case.
- A school can only be judged as ‘requires improvement’ on two consecutive inspections before it is deemed to require special measures.
- Inspections will be undertaken without notice.
- Inspectors should undertake an analysis of an anonymised summary, provided by the school, of the outcomes of the most recent performance management of all teachers within the school, as part of the evidence for a judgement on leadership and management.
I don’t often comment on affairs beyond the great things happening at Moortown Primary. However, in this case, please allow me to present my own response to two of the proposals:
When we were inspected in November, teaching at Moortown Primary was judged to be ‘good’. Some lessons were deemed to be ‘satisfactory’, some lessons ‘outstanding’. This proposal means that Moortown Primary may be inspected again sooner than anticipated. A re-inspection might lead to a ‘good’ judgement for the school as a whole, assuming the quality of teaching was the same as in November. There are two issues with this:
- First, I believe teachers at Moortown Primary are not prepared to play the ‘Ofsted game’ of pulling out of the bag amazing, all singing, all dancing lessons that are likely to lead to a judgement of ‘outstanding’. Instead, I know from my frequent visits to classrooms that teachers deliver quality lessons consistently – all the time, not just for an inspector. My point is that good teaching and learning all the time is surely better than mediocre lessons except if there’s someone in the classroom watching.
- Second, the consistently high quality of teaching at Moortown must play a large part in the exceptionally high standards that our children reach when they leave the school, as noted just this week by Nick Gibb, Minister of State for Schools. In the last few years, Key Stage 2 test results have improved so much that they are now amongst the best in England. Surely this outcome – learning over time – should inform an Ofsted judgement more than a snapshot of teaching on a particular day, by an inspection team who may or may not be able to deliver consistent judgements.
Despite the high standards we achieve, I believe we still need to improve. I believe all schools must keep on getting better and better. The proposal that the ‘satisfactory’ and ‘notice to improve’ judgements should be replaced by ‘requires improvement’ suggests that ‘good’ and ‘outstanding’ schools don’t actually need to improve, or worse, they can rest on their laurels. This is certainly not the culture at Moortown Primary, where we continually evaluate and reflect on what, why and how we do things, and make improvements to suit our learners, not ourselves.
Put forward your views of the proposals here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/ofsted-gefa-sch (Click the ‘next’ link to start expressing your views, not the link back ti the consultation paper itself.) Consultations remain open until Thursday 03 May 2012.