The first school I worked in was a two-form entry junior school. Nearly all mums and dads attended parents’ evenings and regularly read with their children. They took an active role with homework and supported the teachers positively. The Fake Headteacher writes in Teachwire.
Due to lack of sleep (I had a newborn baby) I played it safe when Ofsted came to call, bumbling my way through a maths lesson that I knew all the children could do. My pupils behaved impeccably as usual.
I was expecting the inspector to rip the lesson apart. When I went for my feedback, I was surprised when he said it was one of the best lessons he’d seen.
For family reasons, I decided to move to a school much closer to home. I found one I really liked – a one form entry primary. I thought the headteacher was fantastic and very honest about the children. “Most classes have a high number of social and emotional needs,” she informed me.
“A lot of parents don’t help with homework and rarely listen to their children read. Several children often need restraining. Drug and alcohol use is becoming an issue with some families.”
It was incredibly hard but extremely rewarding. The staff there were amazing.
Eventually, after lots of work, Max stopped throwing chairs. Ryan and Abbie learnt not to shout at each other. Only a handful of children now fell out at lunchtime.
After a while they seemed like a different class. Yes, we had a long way to go and some days were not great, but on the whole, the children were progressing.
When Ofsted paid us a visit the inspector said, “You didn’t stretch the more able. The less able were too reliant on concrete approaches. Children called out rather than putting up their hand. It was a little noisy at times and their handwriting was poor.”
I felt so disappointed. How could she not understand? The fact that they had even done some work – and felt proud of it – was massive progress.
Sadly, it seems, progress in the form of end-of-Key-Stage results is the only one that is looked at seriously and this puts many schools at a disadvantage.
Please tell us your thoughts in comments or via Twitter ~ Tamsin
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