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NOW CLOSED Please take a few minutes to read Ofsted's proposals for changes to how they inspect schools and fill in their survey about it

(114 Posts)
TheOtherHelenMumsnet (MNHQ) Tue 27-Mar-12 11:30:47

Ofsted is currently running a consultation on how they inspect schools and potential changes that may be introduced.

They'd like more parents to take part in the consultation and have their say about how improvements can be made, and the steps Ofsted should take to help raise standards in schools.

Here's what Ofsted say about it: "In the consultation, we are focusing on the key areas of inspection that we believe will help those who provide education to improve children's chances of success. This consultation provides an opportunity to comment on proposals that Ofsted would like to introduce from 1 September 2012."

Ofsted would like you to complete their short survey, but before you do, please download and read the background info here so that you're familiar with the proposals, and are able to answer the questions in the survey. Once you've done that, please click on the link below to complete the survey (please note that the survey and questions look a bit different to others you may have seen on MN because it's an Ofsted survey rather than a MN one).

www.surveymonkey.com/s/ofsted-gefa-sch

This is an opportunity to have your say on issues which impact on children's education. If you can spare the time to take part, please do.

Thanks
MNHQ

senua Wed 28-Mar-12 09:04:15

There are arguments for and against. Yes, it'a good idea to 'catch them on the hop' and see what the real, everyday school is like but, on the other hand, it can also be good if the school has notice. Our last school was a bit 'meh' - as evidenced, for example, by the poor estates management. The only time they swept up, did a bit of gardening, applied a lick of paint etc was when Ofsted said they were coming. It does focus the mind if you know that you have a deadline looming.
Perhaps we need a combination of announced and unannounced.

BarryShitpeas Wed 28-Mar-12 09:33:54

<rubs hands>

Marking place for later.

Oakmaiden Wed 28-Mar-12 09:36:28

Thing is even if it is unannounced, it is not unexpected. Schools know pretty much when they are due their next inspection. My concern is that it will cause enormous pressure on staff because they will end up having to operate for extended periods of time as if they are going to have an inspection at any moment - I can't help feeling it would be damaging to morale.

senua Wed 28-Mar-12 10:08:21

"having to operate for extended periods of time as if they are going to have an inspection at any moment - I can't help feeling it would be damaging to morale."

Hmm, interesting. I operate in a field where I am supposed to get things 'right' and get inspected every year. I make bloopers - who doesn't? we are human - but as long as most of it is right most of the time, and important things are spot on, then I get the thumbs-up. I don't find it damaging to morale to do my job properly because it is inbred in me to be precise. I am often to be found in Pedants' Corner bewailing the inexactitudes of others, many of them teachers who seem to take the attitude of "I am 'off duty' on MN so spelling, grammar etc are not important." I don't have that 'off' button; as I say, it becomes inbred after enough years' professional work to do it right automatically.

So, in conclusion:
teachers shouldn't get stressed at being asked to do their job properly, but
they also shouldn't be asked to be 'outstanding' all the time, just 'up to standard'.

member Wed 28-Mar-12 10:10:12

I'd like to know where the extra money is going to come from; if the schools who were previously deemed satisfactory now get notice to improve & more regular inspections to monitor progress, how are these increased inspections to be funded?

It'd be helpful if you could see how inspectors judge "outstanding" versus "good" teaching to be reassured there is some measure of objectivity i.e a different team of inspectors would come to the same conclusion.

Surely outstanding is, by definition, exceptional/standing out from the norm - I think it'd be adequate to have a certain percentage of outstanding teaching, with the rest good to be able to be considered for the outstanding grade.

I don't buy that looking at outcomes of Performance Management indicates good management/leadership.

So basically, the Head Inspector's heart is in the right place but I have serious reservations about timescale/funding/measures used.

bigTillyMint Wed 28-Mar-12 10:34:13

"I'd like to know where the extra money is going to come from; if the schools who were previously deemed satisfactory now get notice to improve & more regular inspections to monitor progress, how are these increased inspections to be funded?"

Members, that's exactly what the Lead Inspector said to us - they are lobbying the Government about this as there are not enough Inspectors to do all these increased inspections - hence why some schools are getting letters saying no inspection for the time being.

LilyBolero Wed 28-Mar-12 10:58:52

I don't think they should be totally unannounced - a couple of days' notice should be given, because, for example, they may turn up on a day when the head is out at meetings, or supporting another school etc, and I think it's reasonable for the head to want to be there to meet the inspectors, greet them as they arrive, explain to the children that there are going to be 'visitors' in the school who may want to talk to them etc.

You can't do a lot of prep in 1 or 2 days, but you can just make sure the right SMT people are there.

LilyBolero Wed 28-Mar-12 11:04:36

Can I also point out the stupidity of saying that 'Satisfactory is no longer acceptable' and that 'Good' is the minimum 'acceptable' standard. If you look at the criteria for a 'Good' label, it is in essence, a school that is exceeding national average standards. Therefore it is impossible for all schools to be good. And is a ridiculous requirement. Michael Gove was questioned on this, and said it was possible for all schools to be good 'if they were improving all the time'.

Think he needs some more numeracy classes.

This is the criteria for 'good';

"Pupils are making better progress than all pupils nationally given their starting points. Groups of pupils, including disabled pupils and those with special educational needs, are also making better progress than similar groups of pupils nationally. Performance will exceed floor standards. Pupils acquire knowledge quickly and are secure in their understanding in different subjects. They develop and apply a range of skills well, including reading, writing, communication and mathematical skills, across the curriculum that will ensure they are well prepared for the next stage in their education, training or employment. The standards of attainment of the large majority of groups of pupils are likely to be at least in line with national averages for all pupils. Where standards of any group of pupils are below those of all pupils nationally, the gaps are closing. In exceptional circumstances, where attainment, including attainment in reading in primary schools, is low overall, it is improving at a faster rate than nationally over a sustained period."

LilyBolero Wed 28-Mar-12 11:34:17

Quite ironic that there is a blatant spelling mistake in the survey - apparently I am hetrosexual....

bigTillyMint Wed 28-Mar-12 13:42:38

lily Can I also point out the stupidity of saying that 'Satisfactory is no longer acceptable' and that 'Good' is the minimum 'acceptable' standard. If you look at the criteria for a 'Good' label, it is in essence, a school that is exceeding national average standards. Therefore it is impossible for all schools to be good. And is a ridiculous requirement. Michael Gove was questioned on this, and said it was possible for all schools to be good 'if they were improving all the time'.

EXACTLYangry

twoterrors Wed 28-Mar-12 15:09:46

I've just filled it in after reading the (dreadful) document. I can't see how it can possibly be a genuine attempt to consult when the implications of the changes are not set out. It is simplistic posturing.

And what on earth does this mean:
"Pupils are making better progress than all pupils nationally given their starting points"

Isn't that saying pupils have to be making better progress than all other pupils in the country? That's more ridiculous than saying everyone has to be above average isn't it? Who are these people and how did they get their jobs (oh no, actually, I know the answer to that one...)

theyoungvisiter Wed 28-Mar-12 15:28:11

They can't spell heterosexual. Just sayin'

theyoungvisiter Wed 28-Mar-12 15:34:02

Plus that was the worst consultation doc I've ever read. An exercise in expending ink while not actually revealing any information at all.

How can they expect people to make a meaningful judgement on the changes when they completely fail to set out what attainment targets make for "good" teaching vs whatever they're calling the other category?

Would it be cynical to suggest this is an exercise in pointless boundary massaging so that they can come back and triumphantly declare that X% of schools are now good vs last year?

theyoungvisiter Wed 28-Mar-12 15:40:05

"Michael Gove was questioned on this, and said it was possible for all schools to be good 'if they were improving all the time'. "

Well except that part of the good criteria set out below says that they have to be improving faster than everyone else is improving. So it's not enough to be improving. You have to be IMPROVING faster than average as well. So everyone has to be either above average, or improving faster than average. hmm hmm hmm

Utterly ridiculous. talk about Lake Woebegon syndrome - you know, the place where all children are above average. Michael Gove clearly lives there.

theyoungvisiter Wed 28-Mar-12 15:46:27

I should say, I do read and value ofsted reports. But the grading criteria is the least useful part of it for me.

I find the comments actually really useful. But I find the grading obsession infuriating and, actually, deeply patronising and denigrating to parent choice.

Who are they to decide that certain aspects are more important than others? As a parent I can make that decision myself based on the report. I don't need Ofsted to tell poor little me that certain aspects are critical and others are window-dressing.

Ok anyway rant over. I hope oftsted read this thread.

Scarletbanner Wed 28-Mar-12 16:05:42

I doubt that many (currently) outstanding schools will be downgraded on the back of this, as outstanding schools are no longer going to be routinely inspected. Or only "if their performance drops" which as they're not inspected any more, no-one will know....

And yes, agree with other posters about Gove (and Sir Michael Wilshaw)'s fail in maths. Of course not all schools can be above average.

Ofsted loses credibility a little more every day. They might as well rename themselves as OfGove. Welcome to 1950's education (in academies or free schools) for all.

Oakmaiden Wed 28-Mar-12 17:57:15

senua *teachers shouldn't get stressed at being asked to do their job properly, but
they also shouldn't be asked to be 'outstanding' all the time, just 'up to standard'.*

I guess this is mostly the point I was trying to make. When inspection time rolls around teachers DO pull out all the stops - as they need to be able to show detailed planning etc to inspectors, as well as making sure every lesson is as "outstanding" as they can make it. You just can't operate like that on a day in day out for weeks on end. There aren't enough hours in the day to plan and conduct outstanding lessons ALL THE TIME.

Yes, teachers should be expected to do a "good" job all the time. But to be outstanding all the time? I doubt even Gove could manage that (ha!).

Oakmaiden Wed 28-Mar-12 18:00:38

Oh - and the extra money needed for the inspections. It is my understanding that school currently have to pay to be inspected by Ofsted (and it is not cheap - around £16K I believe). So struggling schools will have to pay this extra money far more often than schools that are perfoming well - which is ironic since they are the schools which really need to spend the money on improving standards.

I'd like to know how anyone can judge the standard of teaching when they only spend 15 to 20 mins in any class.

bigbuttons Wed 28-Mar-12 19:39:20

I taught at one school where the head was so lazy that she used to get in after all the teachers and leave before them.
So with what what joy one monday morning I was in class doing prep before school and the front door rings. I wait, it rings again. "Hmm I think, how odd main door is locked? No one in the office, no head, no other teachers no one here but me? How odd it's 8.30." So I go to front door and it's only the frigging ofsted inspectors. I was the only one to let them in and I was only a maternity cover! They were not impressed.
At that same school I was doing an emergency cover of an infant class. I had never taught infants before. So was winging it basiclly.
So during the self same Ofsted inspection the head got me to cover an infant class and I had never taught infants before, only juniors.
As it turned out the inspector sitting in with me was secondary trained and had no experience of infants either. I found this immensely funny at the time and pointed out to her that this was like ' the blind leading the blind"
that didn't go down too wellblush
A friend of mine had and inspector sitting in with her class, he was at a table and one of the children asked him if he could read. he said he could so a child pointed out to him that he was at the wrong table since they couldn't read, this was pink table . He should go to green table as they could do good readingwink

bigTillyMint Thu 29-Mar-12 07:16:26

bigbuttons, love itgrin

AFAIK, schools don't pay for inspections, but that's probably what it costs the taxpayer. Totally agree about it being unrealistic to expect teachers to be outstanding all the time.

Lifeissweet Thu 29-Mar-12 10:26:07

We have just had Ofsted (I missed it by having a baby on the day we got 'the call' smile

The work that goes in to the days before the inspection are all about evidencing things. It's not that anyone does anything spectacularly different. You can only provide a good or outstanding lesson if you are a good or outstanding teacher, but everyone does have to be on top of their game.

The work is in making sure there are detailed plans for the lesson and that your thought processes are transparent. Exactly because they only spend so little time in most lessons, it's important to make sure that while they are there, they can see clearly how you have planned, what you know about the class...etc. That means extra paperwork.

MerryMarigold Netherlands Thu 29-Mar-12 11:26:33

Lifeissweet, very good point.

I'm not a teacher, but I think it's very unfair to make it unannounced. We are not always at the top of our game on any given day, and to have yourself and your school judged on that for the next 4 years (or however long it is) is really not fair. I would hate to be a teacher under that much pressure, and we need more people who WANT to be teachers. They are not paid to perform at that level either. It's ridiculous.

TheRhubarb Thu 29-Mar-12 11:43:22

I used to work at a secondary school with a high OFSTED rating, yet whilst I worked there children used to roam about the corridors during lesson time, swearing at staff members. Some teachers would cry and beg children to behave. The kids would climb up onto tables and chairs and simply treat the place like they owned it. If you put a child into detention, the child simply would not turn up. It was a mess with no real discipline that worked.

When it came round to OFSTED, members of learning support who were never in the classrooms were suddenly everywhere, esp in the worst classes. Some children were removed and taken to learning support with the pretence that they always went there for extra guidance and support and others were bribed for their co-operation. Staff were told to say nothing put positive things.

The only change worth making is that OFSTED should do more spot checks and talk with pupils and parents AWAY from teachers. Giving the school notice of a visit only enables them to pull the wool over the eyes of the inspectors.

TheRhubarb Thu 29-Mar-12 11:45:14

And if Ofsted want to know the name of that school I am more than happy to provide it.

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