Encounters with Ofsted: from good to notice to improve – and back again

During her time as principal, Kenny Frederick’s school has had a mixed bag of experiences with Ofsted inspectors, having been through five Ofsted inspections. In this time, she says, the Ofsted framework has changed seven times and there have been at least three redrafts in the past four years. In the article she describes all five inspections and this extract covers the most recent (one of the more tolerable of the bunch). This is from the Guardian…

The phone call came on Wednesday morning at 12 on the dot. I was out but we were well prepared and my deputy had all the information on hand to go through the Ofsted script. I was back in school by the time she got through going through this (about an hour) and was able to talk to the lead inspector myself.

We then did what every other school does and met with staff, told the kids and parents and stayed until 9pm. There was great excitement in the air and everybody was pleased that Ofsted were coming. This was because they had been waiting so long they wanted to get it over and done with and also because they were feeling confident and proud of their school.

The team who arrived on Wednesday morning were very experienced. They worked positively with staff but were also very challenging – I could not fault them. The fact that they were just as interested in the achievements of our foundation learners as our IB candidates said it all. They understood inclusion and what we are trying to achieve.

The time went quickly with very few formal meetings with senior or middle staff – they talked as they inspected the school. We had everything on hand that we thought they might need and we had it in a short format they had time to read. If they did not ask for it we gave it to them anyway. They saw 50 lessons in all and gave feedback to all my teachers which they found very useful. We did not feel they were out to get us. In the event it all worked out well for us and we are delighted.

However, I have been thinking about what might have happened if the team had arrived in the first few weeks of September as they did in 2008. We have 18 newly-qualified teachers (NQTs) this year and they needed time and support to learn and practice their craft. If they had arrived earlier the number of good or outstanding lessons would have been considerably less. This would really have skewed the judgment, but I don’t know what the answer is to this.

Our school is complex and it needed an experienced team to inspect us and this is what we got. People may think my experience with Ofsted means that I am totally against the institution and what it does. I am not. I accept accountability and all that goes with it but I want it done in a more humane and insightful way.

See the full article at: Encounters with Ofsted: from good to notice to improve – and back again

Tell us about your experiences of Ofsted – the good, bad and ugly – in the comments below or on Twitter. How could the accountability remain but the process be improved for the benefit of all affected?

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