The social-media epoch is out-dating Ofsted and The Department for Education by @TeacherToolkit

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Ross Morrison McGill founded @TeacherToolkit in 2010, and today, he is one of the 'most followed educators'on social media in the world. In 2015, he was nominated as one of the '500 Most Influential People in Britain' by The Sunday Times as a result of...
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A particular praxis for us all to curate is beyond emerging, it is clear-cut. Is it time for Ofsted and the DfE to spread their wings?

Here I discuss the rise of Ofsted; the Department for Education and perhaps Ofqual: the rise of social media.

Social media: Teachers vs. watchdogs:

Versus teachers, or working together?

Photo Credit: j&tplaman via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: j&tplaman via Compfight cc

A particular praxis for us all to curate is beyond emerging, it is clear-cut.

The social-media epoch is out-dating policy-makers and I have verification of this and a promise of what is to come! Thousands and thousands of educators are congregating and using web-tools to consolidate beliefs and shift thought. There is a wealth of great practice online. Supreme ideas and dazzling pedagogical dialogue is endorsed by the powers that be!

The DfE (@EducationGovUK) are enthusiastic to connect with teachers, using social-media to gather views and shape policy. How do I know? Well, the DfE have already hosted their very own discussion with senior leaders across the UK in November 2013 using @SLTchat, which takes place on Twitter at 8pm on Sundays… and they have already participated in @UKEdChat.

Photo Credit: pennstatenews via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: pennstatenews via Compfight cc

I have recent communication from @OfstedNews who are intent to achieve the equivalent claim: engaging with teachers online. The two watchdogs have proposed that they would also like @Ofqual to take up the reins.

Last summer, a small group of bloggers called into question TES Resources. This resulted in a review of their very own terms and conditions and the intellectual property of over 700,000 teaching resources! The power of social-media indeed …

I know that 2014 is the year where teachers converge online, sharing views collectively to change blueprint and shape top-down mandate. Now is the time for us to invest social-media energy into shaping government policy in a meaningful way …

Social-media is evidence-based and many are now using this forum to co-construct grassroots-classroom discourse. Get connected and make sure you and your school, has a voice!”


Not many people know that Ofsted has a Twitter account. Did you know, they are keen to engage with teachers using social-media? This is their current profile:

Click to connect
Click to connect

Read this tweet I posted in December 2013:

Click to open / feedback
Click to open / feedback

which then led to the following direct message:

Direct Message response from Ofsted
Direct Message response from Ofsted

I then received the following email:

“Thanks for getting back. I liked your tweet but I thought I’d just explain where Ofsted is on social.

 Ofsted’s had a Twitter account for a while, but there’s been little activity on it or on any other channels. {Text removed} specifically to up and improve our digital and social media activity. There’s actually a lot of enthusiasm in the organisation for using the potential of social for CPD, listening to frontline voices, using blogs etc. to get a wider perspective and sense of what’s happening on the frontline.

So we aren’t following very many people at the moment but we’re in the process of sorting that out, and many other things. We do regularly look at blogs, Twitter and wider social activity; so the fact that we’re only following a few hundred doesn’t mean we only listen to those people, of course.

Teachmeets are great way of gathering views and we’re keen to do that. In the New Year it would be good to have a chat about how we might work with #SLTchat. I know you got the DFE to host on the National Curriculum recently. We’re also keen to set up a meeting here with a few key bloggers and tweeters (perhaps in Feb half term, as many of you teach of course).

 If you’d be up for that I’ll be in touch with more details in the New Year.

Deputy Head of Communications.”


This is their current profile – much more media-savvy and fast-approaching 100K followers on Twitter:

Click to connect
Click to connect

In December 2013, the DfE decided to get connected with senior teachers across the UK, hosting @SLTchat for the very first time. You can read the full archived conversation below which focused on two key questions:

  • Topic 1: What should the DfE do to support teachers working with the NC?
  • Topic 2: What impact will the new NC have for teaching and learning?
Click to read
Click to read

The Department for Education also has a very active Facebook page:

Click to follow
Click to follow

There are plans in place for the DfE to host another session with @SLTchat, before February 2014 half-term. Topics will be collected from teachers very soon. Keen?

Pose your topic for the DfE and Ofsted here:

The Guardian Teacher Network:

As you would expect with any media-based institution, the GTN have had no problem establishing their own forum to raise the profile of the profession. Below, you will read an email I received from The Guardian Teacher Network – who have been particularly active with the profession to contribute to their forums over the past 2-3 years; engaging with teachers, schools and policy-makers. Over the Christmas break, the team emailed me to ask for my policy predictions for 2014.

I decided to go with an off-key prediction; rather than predicting white-papers or tweaks to Ofsted policy; I decided to go with my opening gambit stated at the beginning of this post; ‘The social-media epoch is out-dating policy-makers’.

The screen-shots in the post are provided as the evidence.

Click to open - Christmas Eve request
Click to open – Christmas Eve request

As much as we berate those who impose top-down policy; the evidence is clear. They (watchdogs) are keen to engage with teachers and it is up to us, to engage as a proactive body in 2014. Now is the time; the time for us to invest social-media energy into shaping government policy in a meaningful way.

 Could @Ofqual be next?

They have a very bland Twitter page (no background; no photos/videos etc.). Perhaps some way to go after the GCSE fiasco in the summer of 2012.

Click to connect
Click to connect

What do you think?

How will the big players (the watchdogs) engage teachers using social media in 2014?

I am not advocating promoting watchdogs; but what I am advocating, is that we connect with them to help change teaching pedagogy. If you are not connected, (and in a positive way) you will fail to have your point of view heard for the better!

If you’d like to come along with me to Ofsted HQ in February half-term, send me an email.


A response from @Ofqual shown below:

Click to read
Click to read

The National College for Teaching and Leadership:

A response from @the_college shown below who have an excellent website that you must sign up to access. Highly recommended.

Click to open
Click to open

Here is NCTL’s recent contribution:

“One thing we’re working on at the moment for @the_college is #NPQHchat (Thursday 16 January at 4.30pm) where people who are submitting their applications, or thinking about applying for NPQH can get their questions answered. We want to avoid this being a stale Q&A so we’re trying to keep closer to the #chat format by getting current participants to take part (including hidden names…).


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