Teaching Ideas To Bin: Ofsted Banners

Reading time: 3
Banned Stamp

John Dabell

I trained as a primary school teacher 25 years ago, starting my career in London and then I taught in a range of schools in the Midlands. In between teaching jobs, I worked as an Ofsted inspector (no hate mail please!), national in-service provider, project...
Read more about John Dabell

Do you have an Ofsted banner outside your school?

I would like to see Ofsted banners banished forever in schools and colleges across the UK and I’d be surprised if there are many who’d disagree. Let’s bin them!

Schools use Ofsted banners as some sort of advert. However, this is window-dressing no one falls for. The banners are essentially meaningless and schools need to stop kidding themselves because they don’t kid anyone else. Outstanding doesn’t really exist in the real world. Any assessment or judgement dates with immediate effect – if Ofsted do say you are ‘outstanding’, the following week could be a whole different ball game – not to mention a few years down the line! How reassuring that some schools haven’t been inspected for more than 10 years!

Ross McGill started to ask for this in February 2017, and the message is starting to get some serious attention. It’s great to see that teaching unions are suggesting we bin the banners! The Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) sent out advice to its members in the shape of ‘101 ideas to help you manage inspection’. Number 91 reads:

Reconsider your banner: whilst you may be proud of your inspection result, remember Ofsted is not the only mark of success. Perhaps the views of your pupils and parents would be a refreshing and welcome alternative!

Headteachers need to think why they use an Ofsted banner in the first place. Who are you doing this for? Can you really justify spending money on this junk?

There are plenty of companies out there that want schools to have Ofsted banners because they can make money out of you. They will tell you that banners can boost admissions and plenty more besides but be cautious, very cautious – businesses only want one thing and the hard sell is just cobblers. You could buy a personalised 10ft x 3ft  for around £115.00 +Vat or you can buy some resources for the school that will actually be useful.

We Are Stinkingly Good

If you really want to let the world know that you are supposedly outstanding (this doesn’t exist), then stick it on the website as this won’t involve spending.

Okay, if you are hell bent on getting a banner because it makes you feel better then just get one that says “We Have No Money For Pens And Paper, Please Help!” or “Our Staff Dip Into Their Own Pockets To Pay For Basic Essentials.”

How about investing in two banners with one saying “Our Mocksted Says We Are Great!” and another “Real Ofsted Think We Aren’t That Good”. Be careful about using a bogus Ofsted logo though as this could get you in hot water.

The TES reported one school with a novel approach to Ofsted banners. Brundall Primary had a banner made saying “Not Outstanding Yet” reflecting its growth mindset perspective to progress and improvement. Why not focus on wellbeing instead and plaster that on a banner.

I would urge all headteachers to refrain from Ofsted banners on the front of school gates, letterheads, prospectuses or websites. We are only feeding the beast.

Ban The Banners

Let’s end the Ofsted banners on all school gates once and for all and rid the logos from the front pages of the press. What would also help is if Ofsted stopped asking schools to download official logos on social media!

Perhaps we can all be a bit more like headteacher Jarlath O’Brien who said: “I don’t give a s*** about Ofsted!

Read the rest of the Teaching Ideas that TT thinks we should Bin in 2018!

6 thoughts on “Teaching Ideas To Bin: Ofsted Banners

  1. Banners – absolutely not! I never displayed one when I was HT.
    My novel, Walking Apart, has a sub-plot about Ofsted, a school, and banners – it’s a happy ending when a community pull together and design their own banners.
    The novel is about a relationship and explores the fall-out of a headteacher under stress.
    Available from Amazon.,I am aiming to get the novel out to as wide a readership as possible in order to generate discussion about the harm Ofsted and the current climate of tests and targets affects primary schools.

  2. NAHT too have been calling for this for years . To little avail. They’ve also been calling for serving headteachers to “hand in their badges “ so many are inspecting under this horrible regime . Without serving heads being inspectors the regime would crumble. Still it continues. Head teachers themselves are perpetuating this cruel nonsense. This is why I’m getting out after 36 years

    1. Yes, I’m not much change all round really, other than minor tweaks to the system.

      Inspection has been around for 150 years, so I don’t think we’ll ever see the end of inspection per se, however, I appreciate there are some things that we can do that benefit parents, students and teachers across the system without it being detrimental to well-being, admissions, inclusion etc.

      Good luck with your next steps.

  3. It’s a tricky one. Most rational people would agree that the single word is meaningless. Yet as a parent I pride the fact that my kids go to good schools. Similarly teachers and leaders of outstanding schools wear it as a badge of pride. Teachers of good schools state how they are outstanding but missed out on an administrative or technical point. And for everyone else, the least said, the better. As long as the single word judgements exist, they will always be stamp of pride, indifference or shame. We need to be rid of the judgements.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.