This article includes the Ofsted updates – January 2014 – for all classroom teachers and those that lead on whole-school teaching and learning.
Just as we were all settling down by the fire on Christmas Eve, Ofsted published their termly update in the School Inspection Handbook and Subsidiary Guidance for January 2014! As sad as it is true; hundreds and hundreds of teachers, certainly thousands, were reading about Ofsted updates over Christmas – me included! This clearly needs to stop…
So, why did we all move away from the television and our families on Christmas Eve-Eve?
Well, the latest Subsidiary Guidance was published on 23rd December 2013. It contains a wealth of information – very detailed in parts – for all sections of schooling. For example: behaviour; curriculum; safeguarding; Best 8 and so on.
Regarding this particular blog, I will only focus on sharing teaching and learning updates for the reader.
Here is how the information was shared online on Monday 23rd December 2013. I am sure that some of you are already aware of what has changed; nevertheless, regardless of the information, here is my take on what you can do in the classroom – alongside the updates – as well as, what you can do across the school if you are leading on whole-school teaching and learning. You can click on the images to read them in full.
and also this image below:
What irks me the most, is this is yet another GoalPostShifter! However, it must be highlighted here, that Ofsted have responded to needs and demands of teachers and are advocating a freedom ‘to teach in any fashion’.
This is good news indeed!
What I’d like to propose, is that we look to cement the goalposts. Although, this is a heterogeneous message.
We do need to adapt to change. The framework will continue to be regularly updated – as long as Ofsted exists – as the needs of students and the curriculum evolves. Therefore, our teaching approaches should evolve too; but not to subscribe to the prescriptive needs of Ofsted.
Inherently, we know how to teach. We know what works best for our students. Ofsted should never have to tell us what is the best method for doing this. Yet, it would be foolish to assume that the Ofsted framework should remain static and stagnant. And unfortunately, we do need this guidance until Ofsted is abolished; or that Ofsted evolves to give us greater freedom to do the things we do best, without us having to hang ourselves by the neck, in a noose restricting our (school/teachers) creative freedom.
Ofsted updates are a great accolade to what is happening in schools. It means the information is evolving to suit the needs of students; teachers and schools. What is being reported and also what is being shared online via teacher blogs and social media is a credit to the blogger. Teachers and consultants have used grass-roots dialogue to help shift top-down policy. OFSTED DO READ these (ours/yours) blogs despite whether or not they are fully accurate or support one point of view. I know they are read (another blog to follow with evidence).
There has also been a healthy debate throughout 2013, on teacher-talk; knowledge versus skills with leading blog-searches on Google by @LeadingLearner, then @OldAndrewUK; as well as progress over time and one-off lesson judgements. Towards the end of 2013, we increasingly read more and more about some schools removing lesson judgements all together!
I am proposing this move to my own principal this half-term – but know that many, many other schools will not yet be in this position to do so – and we may also be one of them (temporarily). There are certain aspects of whole-school approaches that you need in place before being able to report on teaching and progress over time.
I do not believe we are in a position to move towards removing judgements in lessons nationally. But many schools, teachers and senior leaders will need support to be able to make accurate judgements on ‘progress over time’. I do believe, we need to be judged. I do believe we need to have a framework. I do believe we need clarity and that whoever is creating/dictating policy, should reduce the descriptive and make the details as simple and concise as possible. This will alleviate inspectors, consultants and senior leaders using the framework and interpreting it.
OFSTED Teaching updates (page 18) with my comments are in red.
64. Inspectors must not give the impression that Ofsted favours a particular teaching style. (Great news! Same as September 2013.) Moreover, they must not inspect or report in a way that is not stipulated in the framework, handbook or guidance. (Read it carefully.) For example, they should not criticise teacher talk for being overlong or bemoan a lack of opportunity for different activities in lessons unless there is unequivocal evidence that this is slowing learning over time. (This must come from whole-school leadership and monitoring of teaching and learning; not one-off lesson judgements during an inspection. Unless it is reported by leadership and observed during the inspection as hindering student progress.) It is unrealistic, too, for inspectors to necessarily expect that all work in all lessons is always matched to the specific needs of each individual. (Hallelujah! Differentiation is NOT required in EVERY lesson!) Do not expect to see ‘independent learning’ (that old-chesnut!) in all lessons and do not make the assumption that this is always necessary or desirable. (In student and teacher conversations, you may ask students to hear if differentiation and group/independent work is offered and use this to support progress over time judgements.) On occasions, too, pupils are rightly passive rather than active recipients of learning. Do not criticise ‘passivity’ as a matter of course and certainly not unless it is evidently stopping pupils from learning new knowledge or gaining skills and understanding. (This sentence simply equates to, any form of teaching that hinders progress over time, IS ineffective. This information MUST be sourced from whole-school leadership (over-time) and used in the inspection itself. This evidence, if any, must be explicit; justified and actioned, if required to demonstrate progress over time or challenge any overall judgements.)
65. When in lessons, also remember that we are gathering evidence about a variety of aspects of provision and outcomes. (This means the focus is NOT always on the teacher). We are not simply observing the features of the lesson but we are gathering evidence about a range of issues through observation in a lesson. (For example: whole-school behaviour; cross-curricular links; ethos; social, moral, spiritual, curriculum provision; eSafety/Safeguarding etc.) Do not focus on the lesson structure (Bin your lesson plans – even The 5 Minute Lesson Plan!) at the expense of its content or the wide range of other evidence (Books; marking; prior attainment; subject-uptake; routines and relationships etc.) about how well children are learning in the school.
66. When giving feedback, inspectors must not argue that they are unable to give a particular grade because of the time spent in the lesson. (You are entitled to feedback after a drop-in; 20 minutes or a one-hour observation. Make sure you chase this up if you are an individual teacher or look to seek feedback from your T&L senior leader.)
67. Inspectors must not aggregate the grades given for teaching is (error) a formulaic or simplistic way in order to evaluate its quality overall. (The collation of an overall teaching and learning judgement must not be belittled into a simply tally-chart or percentage. Do not provide these either if you are a senior leader responsible for T&L. You are only advocating the aggregation of tally-charts and percentages. Let the residuals and student outcomes speak for themselves.)
The framework can be downloaded here: http://www.ofsted.gov.uk/resources/framework-for-school-inspection with the Subsidiary Guidance download here http://www.ofsted.gov.uk/resources/subsidiary-guidance-supporting-inspection-of-maintained-schools-and-academies and here:
If you would like a comparative analysis of the School Inspection Handbook – January 2014 – and what has changed between September 2013 to January 2014, I have attached a School Inspection Handbook produced by School Improvement Advisor, @HeatherLeatt
Download the FULL Subsidiary guidance here.
Conclusion / Disclaimer:
Sad as it is true, regardless of the quality of my writing or lack of it; this may well be one of the most popular articles on my blog for 2014! If you think that I may have produced some of my interpretations incorrectly, please do leave a message below and I will re-adjust the post. I would not want 30,000 teachers to read this and for those readers to go away with misinterpreted information!
Expect a Powerpoint summary to follow…
On the whole, this is the latest guidance for you to use in your own school and individual classroom. Make sure this is shared and that the information is not misconstrued in leadership teams to beat teachers with a stick …
Expect another update in April and September …