Hurrah for @OfstedNews! #NoMoreGrades by @TeacherToolkit

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Mike Cladingbowl (@MCladingbowl) realsed this document today (4th June) on the Ofsted website.

Brace yourself …

“Why I want to try inspecting without

grading teaching in each individual lesson.”


Indeed, this is true and is very real! From 9th June 2014, Ofsted is piloting a new approach to the recording of evidence about the quality of teaching during some school inspections. This is great news! To say I am exited is an under-statement. Sad, old me! You can ignore my blog and go straight to the news here or read my views and summary at the very bottom of this blog …

You can download the document here: Ofsted: NO MORE grades.


In February 2014, when The Famous Five – as we were quickly nicknamed – went to Ofsted headquarters. We raised this very issue – amongst many other – with Mike Cladingbowl. My response to this meeting was published in my edu-blogger mandate for @OfstedNews. It’s great to see this has now being actioned and made public.

Left to right: @TomBennett71; @LearningSpy; @ClerkToGovernor; Mike Cladingbowl; @headguruteacher & @TeacherToolkit (18.2.14)
Left to right: @TomBennett71; @LearningSpy; @ClerkToGovernor; Mike Cladingbowl; @headguruteacher & @TeacherToolkit (18.2.14)

In bullet point 4 of my article, I stated that:

“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 … “

Mike Cladingbowl then – one week later – responded in an article published by Ofsted: Why do Ofsted inspectors observe individual lessons and how do they evaluate teaching in schools? 

He finished the letter with this significant point:

“Finally, if instructing inspectors to feed back on the range of evidence used to arrive at a judgement without giving a numerical teaching ‘grade’ would help, or even removing the grade for teaching on the evidence form altogether, then I am prepared to consider it. We might, for instance, just ask inspectors to note all their evidence gathered about teaching, and then bring it all together at the end of the inspection in a plenary before discussing the single overall judgement on teaching with the school.”

And there you have it. The early indication 3 months ago, and today, Mike has kept to his word. Below, shows you what has currently been the ‘grey-matter’.

Current Evaluation Forms (EF):

The current form (circa. May 2014) that inspectors visiting lessons use, asks inspectors for ‘Quality of Teaching; Running EF? (Y/N)’ to record a grade for teaching (not the teacher) if there is significant evidence. This will soon change if the new pilot is successful.

Evaluation Form
Evaluation Form

May 2014:

Very recently, I had this quote published in The Guardian newspaper: How can @OfstedNews win over teachers? It said:

“Allow inspectors to visit classrooms, but do not record a graded evaluation for teaching. Ofsted holds such a major – perhaps damaging – influence on educational orthodoxy and any sound regime, would be one that improved the quality of education, and not have teachers second-guessing pedagogical preferences.

Hold all schools to account, consider different types of inspections, but allow the data to speak for itself! When meeting with Mike Cladingbowl in February 2014 (Ofsted’s Director of Schools) he was prepared to consider this. He stated that Ofsted wanted to engage with teachers and schools, but how they go about this is another issue.” (Comment in full)

Newspaper clipping 22.4.14
Click to open – Newspaper clipping 22.4.14

June 2014:

To say I had my ‘ear-to-the-ground’ would indeed be true. I had indications that this news was coming and it is proof, that Mike Cladingbowl is true to his word and does want to improve the reputation and overall effectiveness of Ofsted. regardless of what we may thing of inspections, this can only indicate that the new-Ofsted want to take our views into account.

We have seen this already in our initial meeting in February; more recently with Mike saying that he wants all ‘rogue inspectors’ held to account and also in third-party contracts with Tribal and Serco, brought back in-house in 2015, to employ inspectors directly.

And today this: Why I want to try inspecting without grading teaching in each individual lesson.

So, what are the key points?

  • That inspectors must always visit classrooms and see teachers and children working.
  • That we can give a different grade for teaching than we do for overall achievement.
  • No aggregated grades. No more grades recorded on EFs.
  • Instead, inspectors will record what is going well, and what is going less well, and use this to feed back to teachers.
  • Looking across a range of children’s work (in books), establishing how well children acquire knowledge (student conversations), understanding the teachers’ own views, observing direct practice, and checking on the views of children and parents.
  • Concerns that ineffective and unnecessary lesson observation is (still) going on in too many of our schools.
  • That individual lesson check-lists that are aligned to specific behaviours are not helpful.
  • Headteachers should decide how to assess teaching – and what style of teaching they want – in their school.
  • Schools nor individuals should use inspection to justify their own particular view.
  • Inspection should take a pragmatic view.
  • The pilot starts from 9 June 2014, across the Midlands region.

And my favourite:

  • It’s equally unhelpful to advocate traditional methods only as it is to favour only progressive ones. Traditional versus progressive, false dichotomies or otherwise, might make for an interesting debate when it’s underpinned by evidence but in most classrooms teachers do a bit of both these days. Put another way, children need facts but also need to develop the skills to use those facts.

My view:

As Mike states: “While (I am) he is confident that most inspectors have got the message, I fear it is not yet established firmly enough in schools.”

Mike ends his document with a question for the reader. Rather than considering evaluating teaching on the same issues. For example, activities set; questioning; meeting the needs of students etc. Why not consider the teacher’s subject knowledge; routines; humour; a change of lesson-plan (mid-sentence); and a common-sense approach to differentiation.

Hallelujah! Let us hope that this does “lead to better inspection and (to) more good teaching in schools”.

Hurrah for @OfstedNews!

If you are reading this blog. Emai it NOW to all your staff; we can control our own fate. Share this with your leadership teams where the message has NOT got through. Download the actual document Ofsted: NO MORE grades and present an unbiased viewpoint of the article to your staff.

Spread the word. NO MORE GRADES…

n.b. I’ve cobbled this together very quickly. I will redraft shortly.

12 thoughts on “Hurrah for @OfstedNews! #NoMoreGrades by @TeacherToolkit

  1. The head teachers to decide the teaching style of their teachers? Where is the teachers’s freedom? Only the teachers know best their subject and their pupils.

  2. Pingback: Hurrah for @OfstedNews! #NoMoreGrades by @TeacherToolkit | CaterEduCater
  3. Thanks for a great blog post. My real concern is the Heads who still feel that they need to have those grades as some sort of safety net. Ofsted may not be giving grades but some Head teachers are and that happens several times a year for the teachers they observe.

  4. just wondered if you could give an honest opinion on my observation yesterday.

    taught a year 5 Science lesson, dressed as a bulgarian Chef complete with checkered trousers wig and chefs hat!!

    It was the first lesson on seperation. started with a demo of how to get pickled onions out of custard with a magnet! loved their faces as the pickles lifted out of the custard on the magnet. I put nails in them!!!!

    we then moved on to a solo taxonomy triangle to self assess where pupil felt they were in terms of their knowledge of separation techniques. most obviously felt they were at the top of the triangle with no knowledge.

    they then used a solo based menu card to select tasks of differing difficulty to extend their knowledge. The kids worked brilliantly, were motivated etc. we all had fun.

    they finished by recording what they felt the key facts that they had learnt in the lesson were. and moved their counter on the triangle down to state they now had more knowledge.

    but even using the 5 minute lesson plan i got a grade of requiring improvement ( not your fault!! ) with the reason stated that the children did not make enough progress and left still with some misconceptions about separation techniques.

    your thoughts would be much appreciated.

    1. It reads as though you have been assessed on a performance on one lesson, and NOT over time. I wasn’t in the lesson, so it is hard to pass comment. If the observer studies your student data; looked in student books; talked with students and has visited you several times throughout the course of the year, then I would find their assessment more valid. However, are they up to speed with judging one-off lessons or lessons over time? Either way, how do you know? Have you had that conversation?

      1. This was a judgement made on the one lesson. They did look in the classes books i was observed with. I am quite sure my student data was not considered . I have been seen one formally like this in November, after which time i was off school with my illness. My Head of dept has seen me informally since my return to work after xmas. I agree with your point on validity. Lesson did not take place until friday so will have the conversations this week. will let you know.

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