Secret Teacher: I’m dreading a surprise early Christmas present from Ofsted

The latest Secret Teacher in the Guardian says that any Ofsted inspector coming into their class this week hoping to see outstanding progress is going to be disappointed…

If the local rumour mill is to be believed, one lucky school in our area will be receiving an early Christmas present in the form of an inspection. Will it be us? The uncertainty is driving stress levels through the roof and all phone calls received around lunchtime are met with a sharp intake of breath.

When lunchtime passes and the stress levels die down slightly, conversations between teachers turn to what will happen; making sure we’re up to date on our What-to-Do-When-We-Get-The-Phone-Call-plan.

Before I became a teacher, I was under the impression that when Ofsted came it viewed the school as it is, assessed the teaching and learning, checked behaviour and graded them based on what they see. However, the longer I spend in school the more I realise that it’s much more about playing the “Ofsted game”. The children don’t generally notice of course, except that they’re on their best behaviour when there are visitors in the room and so it doesn’t affect them as much as it does the staff.

That said, when we were having our “preparing for Ofsted” conversations a number of issues came up that I haven’t been able to forget.

It being December, the children are exhausted and the rest of the staff know how they feel, so day to day things look a bit different. They don’t have the focus that they had back in November and so learning is that bit slower.

With five school days to go we’re all counting down to Christmas and looking forward to the exciting things that we’ve got planned for next week. Except they won’t happen, we’re told, if Ofsted comes. Children’s Christmas party: cancelled; fun craft activities: cancelled; staff Christmas meal: cancelled; and instead we have reverted to our normal timetable that we submitted at the beginning of the year. In fact, when I asked the question of what happens if I want to do an impromptu circle time to address something that’s come up in the class, I was told “for these two days you’ll have to put your professional judgement aside”.

Ofsted is there to inspect schools as they are, not this changed example of what schools think they should be. Yet we have an independent body that strikes fear into any teacher’s heart because we are made to change and pretend that this is what our school is like the rest of the year round. If an inspector comes into my class next week hoping to see outstanding progress in their ridiculous 20-minute observation, then they’re going to be disappointed…

More at:  Secret Teacher: I’m dreading a surprise early Christmas present from Ofsted

How would you handle an Ofsted inspection in the week before Christmas? Please share in the comments or on twitter… 

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  1. blamehound

    SchoolsImprove Interesting- our lead inspector said she expected to see our ‘professional judgement’! Pressure on staff/children is awful!

  2. andylutwyche

    SchoolsImprove Only “certain” schools will be visited at this time – it’s not fair, but very little associated with Ofsted is

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