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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 Tue 27-Mar-12 12:02:05

There is a lot to read there, it will take a lot of thinking about.

However, my immediate reaction is that if they are intending to have this in place for Sept 2012 (only six months!) then it is all a foregone conclusion and the 'consultation' is a bit of a charade.

ChippyMinton Tue 27-Mar-12 12:15:45

Not an easy read by any means.

My thoughts are mainly around the impact that any change in Ofsted rating will have on an individual school, now that 'outstanding' can only be achieved by schools where the teaching is rated as outstanding. Some schools that are complacently resting on their laurels may be in for a shock, when they are down-graded to a mere 'good'. The chattering classes at the school gate will have a field day.

KnottyLocks Tue 27-Mar-12 13:18:52

I fail to see how my sexual orientation or which gender I am living as is relevant to their survey.

I appreciate I do not have to tick that box but feel they shouldn't ask nonetheless.

If they are to give no notice prior to inspections, how the hell can they guarantee the Head Teachers will be on site?

Springforward Tue 27-Mar-12 13:35:33

The changes will be interesting, I agree. Before reading this I had no idea that a school could be rated outstanding, if teaching wasn't!

ChippyMinton Tue 27-Mar-12 13:42:20

KnottyLocks - I agree about the last page. I have never been asked that before <dashes off to pluck ladybeard>

Done, but I thought the survey very badly worded in parts, and have said so!

Hassled Tue 27-Mar-12 16:27:50

Have they not only just launched a new Framework for Inspection? What are they trying to do to us? Here Framework from Jan 2012. That's 2 months old. I'm assuming that Framework remains but the semantics change.

Will read and digest and then complete the survey but my initial thoughts are that Ofsted have their work cut out to implement any significant changes by September.

Grockle Tue 27-Mar-12 17:25:42

FAR too much to read. And it's all rubbish anyway. There must be better ways to judge schools. Perhaps if governments stopped changing the hoops that they expect teachers to jump through and actually allowed them to do their jobs, then they'd be able to focus on excellent teaching.

Tee2072 Tue 27-Mar-12 17:35:43

I am assuming they do not want my opinion as I live in Northern Ireland and they have no presence here.

So my only comment, not having read the brief, is I hope they get over the attendance thing or at least get some common sense about sickly children.

Blu Tue 27-Mar-12 18:21:49

I am in some sort of circular loop where every time I click on the link for what I think I need to read it takes me back to where I was....could we have a link directly to the paper we should read?

clopper Tue 27-Mar-12 18:55:01

Depressing. Pointless consultation- it will happen anyway, no matter what anyone says. What other job has to put up with this level of scrutiny? To be outstanding most children have to make better than expected progress within a 20-30 minute time slot 'All pupils engrossed in work and make much better progress than could be expected'

This is the definition of satisfactory teaching, which is now deemed by heads to be unsatisfactory is
SATISFACTORY (3) Most pupils make satisfactory gains in learning, are interested and enjoy working productively. Teaching is accurate and based on secure subject and pedagogical knowledge and is challenging. Relationships are positive and individual needs are met. TAs adequately managed. Orderly atmosphere and feedback provided. Pupils use own ideas and many pupils know where and how to improve their work. Work is marked regularly and pupils are aware of the overall quality of what they have done. Teachers know what pupils have achieved recently and match their planning and teaching accurately to this. The teachers let pupils know how well they are doing and uses this information to set specific, concise targets that pupils understand.
This is what we are judged against.

balia Tue 27-Mar-12 19:11:44

I'm the same as Blu - how do I get to read the blimmin thing? I'd specifically like to know how they rate teaching overall as good or satisfactory? Does all the teaching seen have to be good (or outstanding) or is it a certain percentage?

BackforGood Tue 27-Mar-12 19:14:02

I've had that too Blu - going round in a loop with each link clicked

exoticfruits Tue 27-Mar-12 19:20:19

I agree with Grockle -and I think they will have decided anyway before consulting.

I would like to know, most of all, how a Head can get 'outstanding leadership' when he/she makes the school an absolutely miserable place to work-so much so that staff turnover is abnormally high-they can't wait to get out!

clopper Tue 27-Mar-12 19:38:24

'I would like to know, most of all, how a Head can get 'outstanding leadership' when he/she makes the school an absolutely miserable place to work-so much so that staff turnover is abnormally high-they can't wait to get out!'

Ha, ha Exotic, yes a brilliant thought. How is that good leadership and man management skills.

Hassled Tue 27-Mar-12 19:55:21

Blu - I was in Loop of Hell for a while but what they actually want to read is a word or pdf download - scroll down a bit. Document name is imaginatively called A.doc.

Hassled Tue 27-Mar-12 19:56:07

Where it says "a good education for all", I mean

Blu Tue 27-Mar-12 20:08:43

Nope - tried that, it has twice frozen word when i try and oen the word version. (I am not having difficulty with other sites or word downloads).
Am sick of it now and giving up.

This, on top of the most badly worded survey ever from the Home Office (on same sex marriage) . What IS it with governmental consultation?

Hassled Tue 27-Mar-12 20:11:48

If you want to pm me an email address I can send it as an attachment. You might not care quite that much grin.

I agree with most of their changes. However I think that this is not going to happen quickly. And it will change the focus of Ofsted and will lead to more unpredictable results. Which will really, really piss off the admissions dept when everyone switches results because in December, Mr Ofsted turned up and said school A was shit and now they all want to go to school B.

bigTillyMint Wed 28-Mar-12 07:27:07

I have no problem with schools only being judged as outstanding if the teaching is found to be outstanding, but there will be VERY few schools in this category now - it takes a lot of planning and preparation to teach outstanding lessons, and with no warning.......

There will be a massive melt-down amongst the chattering classes when they realise that their "outstanding" school is no longer outstanding....

Knotty, schools still function when the Head is not on site - that's why there are Deputies and Senior Leaders wink

KnottyLocks Wed 28-Mar-12 07:36:07

Yep Tilly, understand that bit smile but surely the Head would want to be there to watch their school undergo these new inspections? Common curtesy really.

I can imagine how they would feel if they weren't or had to charge back from wherever they were to face OFSTED.

bigbuttons Wed 28-Mar-12 07:42:09

I think Inspection should always be unannounced. I could never understand this whole prep thing. Drives the teachers half loony in anticipation and gives a false picture of the school.
You have to do an unannounced visit to see what is REALLY going on, not the extra shiny version.
Our school had an outstanding in all areas at the last inspection. We had a fantastic head. Then he left and his shit deputy was appointed.
He's spent most of his headship off ill with a mysterious illness,(hooray) now he is back (boo) and shit as ever. It will be very very interesting to see what the next inspection will bring.
I would love it to un announced, then they might find the head having a 'rest in his office or not quite managing to blow the whistle on time or get his staff to greet the kids on time - sorry own private moan thereblush.
Anyway, I think unannounced inspection will really sort out the wheat from the chaff. But they will have to have different criteria to judge things against if unannounced
Yes it will most likely ruffle the feathers of the great and good middle class there.

bigTillyMint Wed 28-Mar-12 08:10:39

Well the Dep would obviously call them immediately and unless they were on a residential or off sick, they would come straight back, I would have thought. Sometimes Head's have to come back for other serious stuff - just a fact of life really.

Yes, it will definitely sort the wheat from the chaff. But as they ring at 8.30 and then come in at 8.40, they are unlikely to find the Head having a rest in his office as he will be doing his best to appear that he is outstanding. Hopefully they will see behind the facadehmm

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 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.

bubby64 Thu 29-Mar-12 13:48:51

I feel there should be some notice, even if it is 24hrs before, just for courtsy sake. For instance, if they had come to inspect my kids school yesterday, all of KS2 (65kids) were on a educational trip, they left at 8am and returned at 4.15pm! Another big problem with the whole inspection thing is the amount of time given for each inspection is not enough, how can you judge a school in the time already given, and because there will be extra inspections to get done, these will be done over shorter and shorter period. This is all very well and good, but the big thing is the money side of things. In many cases if a school were to be graded as "needing improvement", one big factor would be have the facilities available and in good order, and also being able to attract the right type of staff to the posts. All this is dependant on money, and we keep being told by the goverment that this is the one thing they will struggle to provide! Finaly, yes, the whole concept of the good grade is wrong, as everyone cannot be "above average", its a mathmatical impossibility!

TheOtherHelenMumsnet (MNHQ) Thu 29-Mar-12 15:39:57

Thanks to everyone who's taken part and/or added their comments to the thread so far. Ofsted would like to respond to a few of the points raised:

Q from Hassled: Have they not only just launched a new Framework for Inspection? What are they trying to do to us? Here Framework from Jan 2012. That's 2 months old. I'm assuming that Framework remains but the semantics change. Will read and digest and then complete the survey but my initial thoughts are that Ofsted have their work cut out to implement any significant changes by September.

A "Ofsted introduced a new school inspection framework in January 2012. This framework raises expectations and gives a very strong focus on the importance of teaching. We want to do more for our children; they deserve the best education we can provide. All schools must be at least good so that our country’s children have the best possible chances in life, and an outstanding school must be truly outstanding in every way. It should be a model of excellence."

Q from KnottyLocks: I fail to see how my sexual orientation or which gender I am living as is relevant to their survey. I appreciate I do not have to tick that box but feel they shouldn't ask nonetheless. If they are to give no notice prior to inspections, how the hell can they guarantee the Head Teachers will be on site? – we capture this info because XXX – none of this information is mandatory to have your say

A "Ofsted in complying with and applying the Equality Act 2010 understands the importance of including all our protected characteristics, one of which is sexual orientation. By monitoring the consultation responses by the these characteristics we are able to see if all sexual orientations are happy with our policies or whether there are specific concerns we should consider. These questions are optional for all respondents."

Q from Blu/Balia: I am in some sort of circular loop where every time I click on the link for what I think I need to read it takes me back to where I was....could we have a link directly to the paper we should read?

A "Apologies for this, you can access survey directly via www.surveymonkey.com/s/ofsted-gefa-sch, which also includes a link to the background papers."

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

A "Thanks for letting us know, and apologies for the mistake - this has now been amended"

LilyBolero Thu 29-Mar-12 16:42:42

Thanks for the responses!

The key point I would like addressing is the idea that 'good' is the baseline acceptable standard, when in order to be good, a school must be exceeding national averages. It is simply not possible, unless you are creating a situation where 50% of schools are by definition, failling.

KatAndKit Thu 29-Mar-12 16:49:34

Ofsted inspectors can not have had a "satisfactory" mathematical education if they think ALL schools can be above average. It is like expecting ALL babies to be born above the 50th centile. It is a mathematical impossibility for all schools to improve faster than average and all pupils at those schools to make progress above and beyond the national average.

Yet schools who are not able to meet this ridiculous target will now be judged as inadequate?

Why can't they just use Good English?
Outstanding = this is an excellent school
Good= as it says on the tin
Satisfactory = children make expected progress but the school has areas where they could do better
Unsatisfactory = this school is not ensuring that pupils make good progress.

In what world of Newspeak can the word "satisfactory" now mean "not good enough"?

Obviously schools should strive to be better than average, but if you put all the schools that can't be better than average in special measures, that would mean half the schools in the country.

ONLY HALF CAN BE BETTER THAN AVERAGE!

exoticfruits Thu 29-Mar-12 17:04:25

I agree entirely LilyBolero and KitandKat. People in general don't seem to understand the term average. It is the same with DCs-the majority will be average and if most have a general IQ of 120 that will be the new average!

If most schools are good-that becomes average.

I have never understood how Ofsted managed to make satisfactory mean 'not good enough'.

exoticfruits Thu 29-Mar-12 17:06:12

I hope that Ofsted read your excellent post KitandKat.

PestoPenguin Thu 29-Mar-12 19:08:09

In our school some of the senior management team have actual teaching responsibilities (shock horror!). So, one day OFSTED will turn up unannounced and will require meetings with various people from SMT who have the specialist and in-depth knowledge of the areas they take resposibility for (e.g. English, Maths, monitoring, SEN etc). So, those staff will be pulled ot of lessons they have carefully planned, and other staff will be required to provide emergency, and hence unplanned, cover. Then, some of the inspection team will wander off to observe a variety of lessons, possibly including those where the teacher is now teaching children she doesn't know and isn't familiar with the progress of a lesson that she has had zero opportunity to plan. How is this a good idea?

I am all for not giving schools weeks and weeks to prepare, but 24-48 hrs notice seems sensible.

edam Thu 29-Mar-12 21:02:23

<applauds> katandkit.

Ofsted, are you listening? Parents aren't thick. We know that it's impossible for all schools to be above average - that just means you have created a new average.

Plain English is important. This Alice in Wonderland world where 'satisfactory' suddenly means 'not good enough' according to Ofsted is not going to help parents or children.

The 'consultation' is pretty meaningless - if you are cynical because the outcome has already been decided, if you are generous because the questions are impossible for parents to answer without better definitions and explanations - especially of the difference between 'good' and 'satisfactory but it doesn't mean satisfactory any more'.

Call me a cynic but I suspect Gove's plan is to downgrade as many schools as possible now and then miraculously by the time of the next election it will look as if they are all improving...

DPotter Thu 29-Mar-12 21:38:35

Oh how I agree and how does my gender re-assignment change my comments. Far too intrusive. If memory serves me this is the same 'more about you' stuff asked by OFSTED of adult learners during a college inspection

KatandKit - hear hear!

exoticfruits Thu 29-Mar-12 22:18:50

They may not even be there, PestoPenguin,if they come without notice.
People go on courses, meetings etc in school time-especially the Head.
It would seem sensible to arrange it the week before so that you don't have to say 'I'm sorry the Literacy coordinator has taken her class to London for the day!'

edam Thu 29-Mar-12 22:21:25

Just trying to fill in the survey and it's already gone wrong - Ofsted, have you not heard of parent governors? We exist at every single state school, so why on earth have you made the first question impossible to answer if you are both?

exoticfruits Thu 29-Mar-12 22:29:49

I am not going to bother-being cynical I think they have already decided.

AndiMac Fri 30-Mar-12 10:28:55

If these are proposals for September 2012, the only thing this survey is for is for them to plan their PR when people complain about any changes. They don't care what we think, they just want to know what people will say about it beforehand so they can put the right spin on it.

senua Fri 30-Mar-12 10:55:47

I agree that it is a done deal but I don't think that the answer to that is apathy. If enough people complain then politicians eventually take notice. It might be too late for Sep2012 but if they take it on board for next time (because there will be a next time) then there may be a happier outcome.

PestoPenguin Fri 30-Mar-12 13:09:45

I think it's likely that they want more schools to fail so that they can either close them (and allow the opportunity for more free schools with less regulation) or get them taken over, eg by companies and/or the academy process. I don't support either of these things.

Edam, obviously you have to fill it in twice, once as a parent and once as a governor wink.

DamselInDisarray Fri 30-Mar-12 13:56:33

I'm sure they have already decided. Why else structure a consultation around so little information that it's impossible for anyone to make an informed decision. It's all nonsense too. If a school is deemed 'satisfactory' it is obviously good enough, otherwise you'd decide it was 'unsatisfactory'.

I was actually quite worried about the including 'performance indicators' information for all staff. Very little information was given about this, and what little they said was very vague indeed. It sounds like an absolutely dreadful (further) bureaucratisation of teaching such that the professional attributes are reduced to a check box list. Knowing ofsted, that will be close to exactly what they have in mind.

exoticfruits Fri 30-Mar-12 14:51:54

If a school is deemed 'satisfactory' it is obviously good enough, otherwise you'd decide it was 'unsatisfactory'.

That is the one thing that I would like them to change-satisfactory should mean good enough-otherwise say so.
My dictionary says 'giving satisfaction, adequate,acceptable.'
This seems to me average. If all schools get good-then surely they are merely average -and satisfactory and outstanding becomes good and they would have to strive even harder to get be outstanding.

LilyBolero Fri 30-Mar-12 16:02:08

They want to amalgamate satisfactory and unsatisfactory to one 'requires improvement' classification. Problem is, to be good, you have to be above average so 50% of schools by definition will be not good enough. Barking mad if you ask me!!!

letseatgrandma Fri 30-Mar-12 16:21:34

*Ofsted inspectors can not have had a "satisfactory" mathematical education if they think ALL schools can be above average. It is like expecting ALL babies to be born above the 50th centile. It is a mathematical impossibility for all schools to improve faster than average and all pupils at those schools to make progress above and beyond the national average.

Yet schools who are not able to meet this ridiculous target will now be judged as inadequate?

Why can't they just use Good English?
Outstanding = this is an excellent school
Good= as it says on the tin
Satisfactory = children make expected progress but the school has areas where they could do better
Unsatisfactory = this school is not ensuring that pupils make good progress.

In what world of Newspeak can the word "satisfactory" now mean "not good enough"?

Obviously schools should strive to be better than average, but if you put all the schools that can't be better than average in special measures, that would mean half the schools in the country.

ONLY HALF CAN BE BETTER THAN AVERAGE!*

A brilliant post here-well said. My only concern is why NOBODY in the press/government has said this already!

LilyBolero Fri 30-Mar-12 17:27:27

letseatgrandma - they have said it! Gove was asked about this very thing, he said 'they can all be rated good, if they're improving all the time'....

Will see if I can find the clip

KatAndKit Fri 30-Mar-12 17:34:10

Yes but Gove obviously hasn't read the criteria to be Good. Pupil progress needs to be better than average. Only half of pupils can make better than average progress.

They can solve this problem by dispensing with the word "average". To be rated good, a school would have to ensure that all pupils make the expected level of progress or better. There would be a nationally agreed "expected level" which would have nothing to do with averages.

it would of course be ludicrous to say that everyone has to do better than expected. If you make the expected progress then you can't, by logical definition, be unsatisfactory.

Gove is an idiot anyway.

LilyBolero Fri 30-Mar-12 17:36:20

Can't find the clip, this is the transcript of the select committee relevant bit;

"Q98 Chair: One is: if "good" requires pupil performance to exceed the national average, and if all schools must be good, how is this mathematically possible?

Michael Gove: By getting better all the time.

Q99 Chair: So it is possible, is it?

Michael Gove: It is possible to get better all the time.

Q100 Chair: Were you better at literacy than numeracy, Secretary of State?

Michael Gove: I cannot remember."

KatAndKit Fri 30-Mar-12 17:43:03

That's brilliant. It proves what I said - Gove is an idiot. He can't even manage basic maths. A clever 11 year old would understand that half of any given group would be below the average.

If you are "satisfactory" and you get better all the time, but the "good" and "outstanding" schools are also getting better all the time (or else they will be downgraded) you will STILL be below average!

It is indeed possible to get better all the time. Although it is frankly quite unlikely.

The government and Ofsted need to decide what a minimum acceptable provision is. Then they can decide if each school meets that minimum standard. It should be like when you take your driving test - they don't compare you to the national average driver, you are either good enough to be let loose on the road or you aren't.

Can we have a minimum standard for Government Ministers too please?

Can we have a minimum standard for Government Ministers too please?

This please, as teachers we dispair each time a new diktat comes from the outpost of Gove.

Oh by the way has anyone else got their KJ Bible yet? Ours must be lost in the post.

Argh end of term spelling, should be despair!

exoticfruits Fri 30-Mar-12 18:57:09

It is possible to get better all the time.

Not in everything-you simply reach your peak.

*The government and Ofsted need to decide what a minimum acceptable provision is. Then they can decide if each school meets that minimum standard. It should be like when you take your driving test - they don't compare you to the national average driver, you are either good enough to be let loose on the road or you aren't.

Can we have a minimum standard for Government Ministers too please?*

This!

uniqueatlast Fri 30-Mar-12 21:24:19

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

I wouldn't bother. A good friend of mine rang the 'whistleblower' line to report SMT bullying, poor behaviour to the point of throwing scissors at staff and even falsifying records and putting her name to documents after she had left.

OFSTED wrote to her and told her to contact the Head to discuss her concerns! Erm. Well that'll be a no then!

r3dh3d Sat 31-Mar-12 13:38:02

It will be interesting to see the results of the consultation, and what there response to that is. I can't believe that anyone who thinks about it for more than a minute will agree it's a good idea to redefine the English language so that "satisfactory" means "unsatisfactory" and so force schools that are not only satisfactory but improving into a process of escalating inspections ending in special measures. Especially as it will mean lumping the schools that are basically fine into the same category as schools with genuine problems - which will make it impossible for parents to make informed choices, a major backwards step.

I mean yes, they will of course go ahead regardless because the whole thing is clearly a political exercise to give Gove the power to force schools into Academy status, and has very little to do with education. The question is how far the legal duty to consult means there's scope for a legal challenge to the process if everyone consulted disagrees with it.

MrsWeasley Sat 31-Mar-12 13:38:36

"Are you living as the same gender as you were born in?" Relevant??? Typical Ofsted question! hmm

TurquoiseTranquility Sat 31-Mar-12 19:45:52

I wonder what kind of an evaluation scale it is with ONLY two positive values and (an excessive) two negative?

I wonder also, why Ofsted thought that responding to comments on gender questions and misprints was more important than explaining the more pressing issue of mathematical possibility of every school being "better than average"?

Perhaps they apply the same criteria to rating schools - looking at the trees rather than the forest angry

LilyBolero Sat 31-Mar-12 20:32:17

Turquoise, it will be 2 positive, 1 negative, with negative being 'not good enough, requires improvement' and requiring action. But to be either of the 2 positive you have to be 'above average' and so 50% of schools will be in the negative category.

I do wonder if it is a ploy to force schools to become academies tbh.

I do wonder if it is a ploy to force schools to become academies tbh. I don't think there is any doubt about that

PestoPenguin Sat 31-Mar-12 20:38:48

What does becoming an academy actually mean <ignorant>?

Teachers are not covered by the STPCD mainly

PestoPenguin Sat 31-Mar-12 20:47:40

STPCD?!

LilyBolero Sat 31-Mar-12 20:53:58

I think it may also mean that the local government, and therefore national government cannot be held accountable for the results. Because they are 'independent' of the LEA.

r3dh3d Sat 31-Mar-12 20:54:17

Becoming an Academy means dealing direct with the government for your funding rather than going via the LEA, and as a result having a bit more flexibility and you get to spend some of your cash directly rather than receive LEA services. It's a halfway house between private schools and state ones because you are state funded but the government gives you a lot more rope and then if you make a mess of it there is no LEA safety net to catch you. So I guess their theory is it's bringing the free market economy into the state sector without actually privatising it.

If you're a big school with a big budget, like a large secondary, that extra wodge of cash and the freedom to spend it as you please is a big benefit: even where the LEA make good use of the money it results in "one size fits all" services which sometimes end up not fitting any schools at all. But the extra accountability and the extra work it brings is daunting for a lot of small schools - not to mention very expensive, as you almost always need extra management staff in an Academy - which is why despite being heavily leaned upon by the government, so far most of the little primaries are digging in their heels. The govermnent can't afford any more carrots, they won't be offering to fund the extra costs that these small schools can't afford. Which is why they are telling Ofsted to get out the stick. If they can get Ofsted to force perfectly good schools into Special Measures then they have the power to force them to become Academies - ready or not, and sod the cost to the schools - and to the kids in them.

TurquoiseTranquility Sat 31-Mar-12 20:55:12

Lily, well there's "requiring improvement" and special mesures. So technically, two negatives.

I'm also worried about the word "average" - people here keep talking about "average" in terms of the top 50% and the bottom 50%, i.e. "average" here is arithmetic mean. But "average" also means "typical", "most common" so could be seen as mode, i.e. if currently say 60% of schools were rated satisfactory, 30% good and 10% outstanding, the "average" would be... 60%. Therefore, in a few years' time 60% of all schools could potentially end up in special measures!

A ploy to force more schools to become academies - absolutely. angry

STPCD = school teachers pay and conditions document.

it means that those who work in academies do not have to be paid the same as the national payscale for teachers.

Also affects things like PPA, directed time, working at weekends in school etc

PestoPenguin Sat 31-Mar-12 21:14:16

Thanks smile.

TurquoiseTranquility Sat 31-Mar-12 21:23:39

Norfolk,
so it's logical to expect that some academies will be paying their junior staff less than LEA schools or possibly even putting them on supply-type contracts (only paid for x amount of hours worked, no sick pay or holiday pay, no pension etc), while the SMT will be sitting pretty. Whereas other academies will attract all good teachers and TAs in the area with higher salaries and conditions ending in all the best resources being drawn to academies while LEA schools will be left with mediocre teachers.

r3dh3d Sat 31-Mar-12 21:49:16

TT, I think a combination of the two is the most likely. From the school's POV, a lot of staff benefits cost the school more than they are worth to the staff. Sick pay is covered by an insurance policy: if no-one goes sick, your generous sick pay package still costs the school a huge amount to insure. If the school could bring the sick pay package in line with "average" sick pay allowance, the insurance cost would go down and the extra money could go on base salary, which would allow the school to attract and retain really good staff.

Tbh I don't think that is a terrible idea. Plenty of terrible ideas out there atm, but not that one.

LilyBolero Sat 31-Mar-12 22:45:07

Lily, well there's "requiring improvement" and special mesures. So technically, two negatives.

Not really, because if they stay at 'requiring improvement' for 2 inspections, then they will go into special measures.

nkf Sun 01-Apr-12 10:10:32

The average thing is maddening. So stupid it makes my teeth ache.

EvilTwins Sun 01-Apr-12 10:20:27

The average thing is maddening - I agree nkf

The other thing I find frustrating about the new framework is the fact that inspectors are going to make judgements, by watching a lesson for 30 minutes about progress "over time". Other than asking the students "does this happen all the time?" or spending hours poring over exercise books (which I don't have - secondary Drama) I fail to see how a 30 minute observation is going to allow a perfect stranger to make a judgement about my long-term teaching skills.

As for the no notice thing - as long as inspectors accept that they might turn up to find the whole of Year 10 in a controlled assessment, all of Yr 7 on a trip and cover supervisors working flat-out, then fine. If they expect to find the level of detail in written and printed lesson plans that they tend to want, then they'll be stuffed. I write lesson plans, but they are for me - the amount of extra detail an inspector wants is unnecessary on a day-to-day basis. Also, I don't print my lesson plans out unless I know someone is going to be watching me and will want to look at a plan as we go along.

I'm in a school which has just come out of special meaures. Our final inspection was the week before October half term. Our lead inspector, who had been in and out of school for a year or so, and was a very decent chap, told the Head, before the summer holidays, that he would be back before October Half Term, but probably not before the end of September, and that we would only have 24 hours notice of his visit. The Head passed this on to staff, and the three weeks between the end of September and the start of half term were the most stressful of my life. Lots of notice is definitely not a good thing.

ecat Sun 01-Apr-12 22:29:56

I think teachers will have their work cut out and Ofsted will just tell them that they have not done enough! Very helpful. Ofsted already seems to strike fear into the hearts of teachers. This only seems to make it worse. Imagine being a child in the class amongst all this pressure. Do we do this to any other profession? Imagine going into surgery and your surgeon had someone jump out with a clipboard and chekilst. Shaky hands? Possible mistakes? Gulp!!

Clarella Mon 02-Apr-12 04:42:30

Currently wide awake 6 wks pregnant smile

As a teacher of children with autism in a school for moderate learning and complex difficulties and autism (50%+) I am now teaching a class of 5 in an autism specific learning environment (basically a little 3 room unit within our special school). Some of the wonderful and intensely challenging children I teach are actually academically of lower mainstream level, but impaired in their social and communication skills, as well as problem solving skills (not maths problems, ie 'what do I do if I don't have a pencil, how do I communicate that I feel unwell') which understandably results in extreme anxiety and complex patterns of behaviour which need a psychology degree to interpret at times! (eg is the current repetitive scripting of Mario scenes stress, distraction or amusement?!)

My deputy head has been unable to give me judgements in observations following new guidelines due to to 'progress clause' as, following all current good practice guidelines for teaching ASD, many of my lessons rely on routine of activity, repetition and minuscule small step learning. More 'formal' lessons, 'knowledge based' as Gove wants (as opposed to skills based - how do you interpret and apply knowledge without skills?!) Can be very challenging as most are peripheral learners and may need to be drawing whilst they listen or have extreme lethargy and sensory needs that they may need to be flopping in a corner or skipping round the room. Progress therefore can be simply coming to sit in group (hard to predict if will be an issue and therefore set as an objective) or even the fact that many children with asd don't like to do what they can't do - so some lessons are short blue peter style this is how we.... and on the 3rd day they might do it. Or 2 hours later. Or, as we are finding at the moment a year or 2 later.

I have a child who in September would not come out of the 'calm room' would not read, would not write. He now likes to write 7 page long history books about the queen's jubilee.

The progress over 6 months has been tremendous. At his pace and never noticeable in 20 mins. I tend to judge my lessons on rollage percentage. Competing with the exciting and motivating world of Mario and sonic is tough, if theres little or no rollage I know I've got them! Stuff ofsted, I know I'm giving my kids what they need. Observed interactive role play for first time last week yeay! During maths.

Clarella Mon 02-Apr-12 08:22:25

Oh and send unwanted kj bibles our way, mine are partial to a little paper nibbling/ sensorial ripping. Do they do it in Communicate in Print?

r3dh3d Mon 02-Apr-12 14:55:29

Lol Clarella - if they do, it won't be available in the VI character set. confused

r3dh3d Mon 02-Apr-12 15:08:09

Meant to say (while we're on the subject of inspections at SN schools) that it's already very difficult for an SN school to prepare for an inspection because the "evidence" required is so hard to round up. The inspection criteria are very much written from the POV of a mainstream school, and though there are entire sections about how this doesn't apply and that doesn't apply and how leeway will be given for SN kids in mainstream or in a SN school, there's much less guidance about what evidence should be looked for instead. Plenty of ways not to be marked down, very few ways to be marked up. As a result, though SN schools will be given enough slack that the decent ones are not going to fail horribly, it is increasingly hard to see how a truly outstanding SN school can be judged "outstanding" at a no-notice inspection. SN schools use their notice period working out how to fit the round pegs they have as evidence into Ofsted's square holes.

bigTillyMint Mon 02-Apr-12 15:23:52

Clarella, I feel your pain sad

I work in a special setting for children with severe SEBD, often including ASD and complex learning difficulties. We all have to be assessed on the same Ofsted framework as mainstream schools, so although our lead inspector (very experienced with special settings) judged us to still be outstanding, he could only give us good under the new framework. The LA were up in arms, but there's nothing they can do either. Well, we know we are outstanding!

And FWIW, we would still be outstanding on a no-notice inspection smile

Clarella Thu 05-Apr-12 08:43:31

I really don't think SEN schools are noticed by this government. My DH and AH went to the Manchester conference recently about the new curriculum and not only did they have nothing to give/ tell us, they couldn't comment on SEN. They want a return to knowledge based learning (empty vessels to fill?!) but as my colleagues pointed out you can't do anything with that knowledge unless you have skills, something which is even more pertinent with SEN and ASD. I've never forgotten a child who could read, spell, handle numbers to 100 and yet did not understand the concept of using Sellotape. He simply laid it where he was asked. Really in SEN schools, to gain any progress and a happy child you can't be less than good. I really cannot describe the things we've dealt with in the last term (3 out of 5 of the children in my adjoining class are on antipsychotics) and one has learnt he gets the best reactions if he urinates on you. And yet he IS making progress down to the exhausting dedication of the team. But wander in at any point during the day and you see very little 'progress' or even engagement some days.

Also, although we are not technically an EBD school, several children would be classes as such if it were not for their Asd diagnosis. Teachers do get hurt but to their credit, over time, most children make progress with this, if they don't they tend to go to residential.

Sorry just ranting! It does cause me stress to think about being judged, but we know we're alright!

Grockle Thu 05-Apr-12 09:31:38

Clarella - that sounds much like my setting. I get weed on frequently. My class do not need 'knowledge' - they need life skills. OFSTED don't give a monkeys about the fact that one of my children has learnt to go to the toilet - he no longer wees on his chair (or me!). One of them doesn't bite me when he gets cross and can now say 'I feel sad' instead. Two of them have learnt to eat with a knife and fork and don't get up and wander round the room at lunchtime. THAT is progress. Massive progress. These children need to be able to function in the community. But no-one judges us or them on that. It's all about academic progress which is ridiculous.

bigTillyMint Thu 05-Apr-12 09:39:50

Clarella and Grockle it sounds like we have a lot in common, although we only have one wee'er ATM smile I also spend every lunchtime teaching children how to hold a knife and fork (never mind cutting chewy meat with a plastic knife!) and keep their bottom on the chair - I don't think there's an Ofsted tick box for that!

I don't mind being judged, but it should be on the right sort of criteria. I would LOVE to see Gove in charge of my class, teaching NC Y3 Literacy grin

Grockle Thu 05-Apr-12 13:40:29

I have often said the Gove (or even any of our SLT) should come into my classroom then judge our teaching according to his criteria. Like you, I don't mind being judged but I object to people looking for the wrong things in my children. It's utter madness and completely meaningless.

And why DO special schools serve chewy meat?

bigTillyMint Thu 05-Apr-12 14:15:58

Grockle, ours is shipped in from a local Primary, so I can only guess that they get chewy meat too <bleurgh>

Grockle Thu 05-Apr-12 14:18:03

Ugh. Ours is cooked onsite so there's no excuse. It's either chewy meat & solid potatoes or a trough of mince with a layer of orange oil on top. And they wonder why my class are 'fussy hmm'. I think they're much smarter than people give them credit for - I wouldn't eat that stuff either !

bigTillyMint Thu 05-Apr-12 15:46:18

Mostly ours look OK - we are a healthy eating school, so lots of salad and fruit, and no hot puds and custard sad, but I don't actually eat them (apart from the odd chip!) Ours aren't fussy - I think it's the only "proper food" most of them get and they mostly clear their plates.
Chewy meat just means that even more of the food is off the plate and onto the table as they struggle to saw through it grin

Grockle Thu 05-Apr-12 18:52:45

We're a healthy eating school too but with hot puddings, cream and custard hmm Dinner times are never the tidiest activity, are they? I'd LOVE Ofsted to observe a lunchtime with me - they are the best time to teach social and communication skills because the children are actually motivated to ask for things. Try getting them to communicate during an English lesson and I'm met with eye rolling and frosty stares and a lot of lying on the floor pretending not to listen. I love my job grin

Clarella Thu 05-Apr-12 20:18:00

Omg Grockle, you could be at my school! Yes chewy meat and yummy custard, not so yummy thrown all over you! PECS works great when the kitchen actually allow them to CHANGE THEIR MIND when they've tasted their choice - we may not try as hard to clean that off the walls.

Did I mention earlier I personally 'judge' my own lessons on the percentage of 'rollage'! I will be stamping 'peripheral learner' all over my planning from Sept onwards, which is when they've told us they are likely to come. Seriously,I have no idea how one child has learnt 100 extra words in a term, I haven't been able to get him to think about anything other than sonic and mario. He's started looking at comics a bit though. Which he tends to look at in maths. ( is it worth the tantrums to stop him resulting in setting the rest off and a spoilt morning - choose your battles!) (we do do 'sonic and Mario' maths though so he is making progress, Mr ofsted)

The lessons I deliver to thin air are hilarious. I sometimes seem to be doing a Joyce Grenfell.

But yes I wouldn't have it another way! Hope you're all enjoying your hols! Xx

Clarella Thu 05-Apr-12 20:20:19

Sorry that was supposed to say omg Grockle and Bigtilly!

bigTillyMint Fri 06-Apr-12 08:09:08

I don't have many rollers on the floor ATM (though there can be a lot of fidgeting on their chairs/kicking other's chairs, etc!), but some who have receptive and expressive language difficulties, combined with ASD/learning difficulties, so the literacy lesson Mr Ofsted observed was quite entertaining.

And yes, I feel like Joyce Grenfell at times too!

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