If you have been following my blogs recently, you will be fully aware of what has happened today.
There is so much to blog here; and I have promised myself to just share the headlines from today’s meeting at Ofsted headquarters – Aviation House. Kingsway, London. We have also been promised the minutes from today, so we will share these with you at a later date …
My prediction that this meeting would happen, is written here for all to see … “The social-media epoch is out-dating policy-makers and I have verification of this and a promise of what is to come!”
It is with great significance, that a number of bloggers are having a small impact on Ofsted headquarters. As I have said, the social-media epoch is out-dating Ofsted, and knowing Ofsted’s desire to raise their own social-media profile, as well as take into account the end-user, this meeting was initiated, planned and delivered to hear our views.
This is a huge step forward and can only be the start of much more to come … So, hurrah for edu-bloggers; and dare I say, hurrah for Ofsted!
Not everyone who is anyone, who tweets and blogs could be represented at the meeting today; but those who were, represented the profession as best we could. In attendance, were @LearningSpy; @TomBennett71; @ClerkToGovernor; my ex-colleague @headguruteacher; me a.k.a. @TeacherToolkit and of course, the National Ofsted Director for Schools, @mcladingbowl.
I am writing my own interpretation of what was discussed at the meeting today; and you will be able to build a picture of the collective-view, as and when the above colleagues (bloggers) publish. So, do keep an eye out for their updates.
- 19.2.14: Here is @LearningSpy’s update: What I’ve learnt from my visit to Ofsted.
- 19.2.14: Here is @TomBennett71’s blog on the TES: Meet the Fockers: Ofsted talks to the Bloggers (with a judgement for Ofsted too!)
- 20.2.14: Here is @headguruteacher’s view as headteacher: Meeting OfSTED: The Game has Changed.
- 21.2.14: Here is @ClerkToGovernor’s view: The Journey of the Blogi.
Mike Cladingbowl has promised much more to come; and notably, the collective views of many teachers/bloggers. This was the beginning of a change in ethos. Today, we stressed the importance of everyone being given the forum, to express their views in a structured and meaningful way. I can confidently report, that Mike has good intentions for Ofsted to be at the forefront of those at the chalk-face!
Without going into minute detail, I have encapsulated five key points from today’s discussion:
- We stressed the importance of what is prescribed and stipulated to schools; for teachers, governors and parents. We stressed how this information can have a huge impact on us all. How information can be misinterpreted and so often, results in fear and doing-for-Ofsted; not doing-for-the-students. Almost, a ‘you say, we all follow’ culture. Mike did add, that in Ofsted feedback: ‘9/10 headteachers say they are satisfied with Ofsted inspection process and outcome’. We ask for less prescription and more freedom. Less is more.
- Leading on from this, we discussed the importance of how Ofsted improve their communication with schools. The latest examples being on Christmas Eve(!) and on the 6th February with Myths and Facts. We should know when key updates are being published – not guessing – and that these are timely and supportive of the work-life balance of teachers in schools (where possible). We also discussed that in any guidance, tracked changes are included, so thousands of us are not frantically analysing documents and misinterpreting information – as well as noticing small minor grammatical changes and additional content. We suggested an @AskOfsted Twitter channel could be set-up for schools to ‘ask for support and clarification’; and that this becomes the paramount channel for announcing significant news. Not only would this improve their own social-media communications, but that ALL schools would know this was the one channel to stay informed.
- We discussed the need for differentiated inspections; perhaps conversational with headteachers, rather than the current ‘one-size-fits-all’ model we are all too familiar with. We also discussed the new no-notice behaviour inspections; as well as ‘context’ being taken into account when reporting. And that with this context, there is a (differentiated) communication of reports, that takes school-context into account; – for example; not being able to recruit a head of department = fall in standards/blip year in results. Perhaps, including data dashboards in reports, so that high-risk headlines are fairly represented and least detrimental to the schools involved.
- Regarding all classroom teaching and teachers: this crucial conversation was repeated throughout the meeting; that no more (one-off) lessons should continue to be graded. If feedback is provided, they should not carry a grade and if inspectors provide this in their feedback, they are not following guidance. Ofsted (Mike Cladingbowl) stated: ‘this was never our intention’ and disappointingly, this clearly seems to be the perfect example of how schools; leaders; consultants and teachers have misinterpreted the whole-school framework for grading overall quality of teaching and learning. It was never – I repeat – never, intended to be used for one-off lesson judgements! We only have ourselves to blame … And a resounding ‘no’ to overall gradings too! Again, that there is too much at stake and that the reliability and validity could not guarantee accuracy. We discussed current alternative methods for doing this and we affirmed, that we know our teachers/teaching better than anyone else. And that this could not be picked up in 20 minutes, nor in a 1-2 day inspection visit. The process was perhaps a validation of what we already know, and that the school SEF be made public, to help drive school improvement – support the inspection process – and outward-facing information for Joe-public. It is clearly time for Ofsted to rethink inspection visits and how they are conducted.
- Finally, whistle-blowing HMIs; bad-practice and quality of inspectorate. Mike insisted he wants to know where inspection does not fit guidance. He raised Mocksteds; consultants and ‘snake oil’. It is our duty to inform Ofsted of malpractice and I suggested, that Ofsted make their whistle-blowing procedures much more obvious for all. The outcome of this meeting, is clearly a step forward for improving the process and framework.
Each of my colleagues (bloggers) raised our own particular interests and there is much more to include; but hopefully I have picked up on the key issues and have represented the meeting well … Overall, Mike wanted to meet with us – as a group – again; plus provide a forum for others to attend, share and suggest.
Meanwhile, Ofsted are hosting @SLTchat this Sunday; so do join in. Mike will be tweeting too! It promises to clarify the current issues debated on lesson observations and the impact of a one-off inspection culture.
I will report back as soon as I receive the minutes from Ofsted; and blogs from Tom B.; Tom. S; David and Sheena.
One oversight raised by @philriozzi was found in Ofsted Subsidiary Guidance – January 2014. A perfect example of information misinterpreted, and where guidance leads to further contradiction and inspection subjectivity (for one-off lessons).
Paragraph 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.”
and an Ofsted (EF) Evaluation Form used in lesson observations. Is it time for this form to be changed?