An Open Letter to an Ofsted Lead

Apropos of absolutely nothing…

 

Dear Sir,

Thank you for your recent visit to our school. Please, never come again. Regardless of the inspection outcome, your sole presence in our school was thoroughly demoralising. Here are some of the reasons why.

 

Misleading 

At the welcome meeting, you spoke of how the inspection team were going to look deeply at our teaching. You told us that the inspection team would be happy to talk to the teacher, TAs and the children in equal measure.

You barely entered a classroom. When you did, you didn’t acknowledge the teachers, even when they spoke to you to try and explain what was happening. You refused to talk to children and, when you did, you spoke to them with arrogance and disinterest.

Additionally, you told us that teachers would not be judged or placed into a category. You went back on this as you openly discussed teaching methods and where you would grade them.

 

Open-mindedness

According to the School Inspection Handbook, your job requires you (ahead of the inspection) to look at data, the school website, parental feedback and the previous inspection report. I genuinely wonder how many of these you looked at. An obsession with data (which, point 47 states, ‘No single measure or
indicator determines judgments, particularly since many of the data are
historical and relate to pupils that have left the school) meant that this was all you were interested in.

Do not tell a school that they are deemed inadequate until you are otherwise satisfied, especially if it is before you have seen a single teacher in a classroom.

Behaviour is outstanding in our school – you even said so. But you argued that this was despite the efforts of staff ‘because it’s a faith school’. Come on. Judge on a school on its merits, not on your prejudices.

 

Listen

Don’t be so bloody-minded as to ignore those talking to you, whether that be the headteacher who is running around collecting every shred of evidence you ask for (and then ignore); the chair of governors who is trying to explain that no, not every cohort is the same (and therefore will not make exactly the same rates of progress as one another); or the cheerful TA who says hello to everyone but apparently is invisible to you.

Listen to what the children say. Look at what the school does well. A plethora of evidence was offered; nothing looked at. Embrace the school and its community. Take your head out of your arse data.

 

Feedback

Teachers who have been observed are entitled to feedback. Again, according to the School Inspection Handbook, it is down to you, as lead inspector, to ensure this is available. Do not offer threats of reducing meeting times with governors/SLT in order to give such feedback.

When giving feedback, make it constructive. Give positives – there are always positives. Making inane, unhelpful and frankly irrelevant comments, such as ‘you have a nice smile’ or ‘You like drawing, don’t you?’ will not help any school or teacher to improve.

 

Manners

Some basics here, but nevertheless:

– please don’t put your hand in someone’s face when they are taking to you. Wait until they are finished; then it’s your turn.

– please don’t wave your hand at adults, pointing in a vague direction as to where you want books placed. Worse still, don’t talk with your mouth full.

– don’t ignore the governors of the school – the people who give up their own time to help with the running of the school; who have waited all day to speak with you; to whom you didn’t even offer a handshake or a welcome.

 

Finally, have some belief in the judgment you give, as it affects everyone at the school. If you can be talked out of many of the statements you wanted to include, it suggests you didn’t really believe in them in the first place.

 

Please say thank you to the other two inspectors, who were friendly, approachable and warm. Human, you could say.

I hope that when you told us that you wouldn’t be inspecting next year it wasn’t just another collection of words falling out of your mouth, but an actual truth. I hope to God other schools do not have to suffer you.

 

Regards,

Stephen

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One thought on “An Open Letter to an Ofsted Lead

  1. gazneedle August 27, 2014 at 2:37 pm Reply

    Yikes!

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