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A bit sneaky, or so I thought - but standard pactice?

(33 Posts)
qo Sat 09-Jul-11 09:57:07

My daughter, aged 10, was chosen to speak to the ofsted inspectors during last weeks inspection of her school - the day before they were due in the headteacher "coached" the on what to say.

She had apparently said "be honest but don't be negative about the school and really push the fact that you enjoy the adventure learning" (they are pushing for adventure learning status) as well as telling them they should mention how well behaved the pupils are, with hardly anybody stepping out of line (not strictly true, we live in a deprived area with more than our fair share of "wild" children for want of a better word)

When dd told me I was shocked to be honest, but my sister seems to think it's standard practice and to be expected really.

I can see that POV they obviously want the inspection to go well, but not too sure about the message it's sending out to dd, she actually doesn't enjoy the adventure learning and has her own valid reasons for that.

I told her to be completely honest, and if she has an opinion that doesn't fit in with mrs X's that she should voice it.

kreecherlivesupstairs Sat 09-Jul-11 10:02:14

I don't think YABU. Presumably there will be more than your DD talking to the ofsteders? The inspectors are experienced enough to spot parroting or coaching.

ImperialBlether Sat 09-Jul-11 10:05:12

Couldn't she say "A lot of the children like adventure learning (whatever that is) but, me? I prefer kiss chase."

Or, "Most of the children are well behaved."

Or, "I can concentrate in class when it's quiet."

qo Sat 09-Jul-11 10:05:41

yes there was a number of children from all year groups, they were all taken to the hall to be coached spoken to by the head.

Themumsnot Sat 09-Jul-11 10:06:12

Not standard practice IME. I am CoG at my DC's school and for our last Ofsted I saw the group of children the HT had picked to talk to the inspectors - they were a bunch of quite independent and outspoken Yr6s who I know would not have pulled their punches. He didn't coach them. And we got an outstanding! So YANBU at all and you are right to tell your DD to be completely honest.

coccyx Sat 09-Jul-11 12:51:43

Thats awful. don't think its standard practice

worraliberty Sat 09-Jul-11 12:56:50

It won't make a bit of difference as they'll speak to random children on their walks anyway...but it's a bit 'off' to coach the kids like that.

nagynolonger Sat 09-Jul-11 13:00:46

Why are schools given a chance to prepare at all for an OFSTED visit?

Many moons ago when I worked for a high street bank the inspectors just turned up at the door. It would be less stressful for the staff as well, and they have no need to fear if things are being done correctly.

If DC are being coached on what they should say it is obviously wrong.

NearlyHeadlessnickelbabe Sat 09-Jul-11 13:03:52

I would definitely tell her to be honest and to say what she believes, not what the teacher told her to say.

Especially if she doesn't enjoy the adventure learning!

LineRunner Sat 09-Jul-11 13:07:56

You will get a letter from the Ofsted Inspector as a parent and asked for any comments you have...

ivykaty44 Sat 09-Jul-11 13:11:30

My dd was asked to talk to ofsted - but not coached in what to say. dd2 did say the ofsted asked some really strange questions and she thought they where odd people and not very nice!

So no it isn't standard practice to coach the children

paulapantsdown Sat 09-Jul-11 13:13:51

My DS was picked for this from his class (one boy and one girl picked from each class - one class year group). It was soooo obvious that him and the girl were picked because they are the most agreeable and eager to please children in the class, who would struggle to say anything negative!

TheSmallClanger Sat 09-Jul-11 13:14:22

It is standard practice at some schools. I have teacher friends who are "encouraged" to discuss lesson plans with their students in advance, and all of the disruptive children are hidden away, either doing "private reading" in the SN base, or on "courses" at the FE college.

The college I work at is fairly honest about inspections, as are many schools.

paulapantsdown Sat 09-Jul-11 13:17:08

my post sounds a bit knobby - what i meant was, that I think these two kids were picked as they would be the least likely to say anything controversial, and would blindly agree to say anything the teacher might have coached them to say. When a schools reputation depends on these ofsted reports the teachers can't be blamed for engineering things a little bit in their favour - I know I would!

RottenTiming Sat 09-Jul-11 13:17:52

Please tell me ofsted picked the children randomly instead of the headteacher selecting suitable children.

Surely they should select randon names and without warning.

StayingNearlyHeadlessNicksGirl Sat 09-Jul-11 13:43:22

Nabynolonger - Ofsted have reduced the amount of notice that a school gets of an inspection from two weeks to two days - maybe they could make the inspections completely unannounced.

RottenTiming - I assume that, if the inspectors were picking the children at random to chat to, the Head could have the same 'briefing' with the whole school before the inspectors arrived (unless the inspections were to be completely unannounced).

I would imagine that the inspectors can tell when children have been coached - and if I were an inspector, this would count against the school.

tjacksonpfc Sat 09-Jul-11 13:49:18

Not standard practice at our school which was put in to special measures and has now come out with a good rating. Our HT just picked the kids whos english was understandable as we have many who dont speak English as a first language so are hard to understand and don't like talking to people they don't know.

They all went into a room with the inspector and the head just came out crossed her fingers and hoped for the best not knowing what was going to be said. This happened on numerous occasions due to the inspectors having to keep coming back and checking we were improving.

I would like to think that an inspector can see right through kids that have obviously been coached in what to say.

Nellythecat Sat 09-Jul-11 16:01:38

Years and years ago, for my secondary school's first ofsted I moaned in a maths lesson about the workbooks we had, so the inspector came over to ask me more about it. I don't know what compelled me to say anything on that day, as I generally was well behaved and got on with my work, but the workbooks were awful - they were on a different topic each, you picked the one you fancied, worked through it, and if you got stuck gave up and got a different one. There was no actual teaching done in the class all year. Anyway, the inspector must have put it in the report because the next year the maths books were completely changed and were much better. So I think it's better for children to tell the truth. Mind, I don't hold much faith in the inspections anyway. Some heads are very good at talking about their school and 'bigging it up' and the inspectors go away without much knowledge of some real problems.

cory Sat 09-Jul-11 16:08:57

Dd's headteacher coached all the children in assembly about how they had to be positive and mustn't say anything negative. The children were generally quite scared of him so I imagine they would stick to the brief.

givemushypeasachance Sat 09-Jul-11 16:19:53

As said above you should get a parent's questionnaire to fill in - it has space for comments, and I'd definitely use it to express your concerns! You can also write a separate note/letter and either give it to the school in an envelope and ask them to pass it to the inspection team or send it to Ofsted if you feel happier doing it directly - just mention the school name and ask for it to go to the lead inspector. Ofsted also has an email address -

I expect it's not an uncommon practice and inspectors should be on the look out for coaching - they also speak to pupils informally in the playground, in classes as well so they get a wider picture, but if you know that it happens then reporting it will give them a heads up that they should be extra attentive.

lookbutdonttouch Sat 09-Jul-11 16:34:11

My DD has been picked twice before.

The chosen ones got told a couple of days before that they might be spoken to and that was it, no coaching.

First time she was spoken to, second time not.

The warning meant I knew to

lookbutdonttouch Sat 09-Jul-11 16:35:21

Oops, posted too soon.

Warning meant I knew to make her 'photo' neat on the day.

She said they asked odd questions....

lazarusb Sat 09-Jul-11 17:31:55

Not standard practice ime. I would write to Ofsted with your concerns. They need an honest view of the school, especially from the pupils. The Head sounds like she is very aware of the problem areas in the school but would like them to be glossed over. That isn't acceptable.

hephaestus Sat 09-Jul-11 17:48:39

I remember this happening when I was at school (less than ten years ago) - complacent, goody-goody pupils were selected who would never say anything negative and they were subtly coached.

I grabbed an inspector as they passed in the corridor and gave it to them straight. grin

manicinsomniac Sat 09-Jul-11 18:02:37

When I was at school it was still 2 weeks notice.

When I was in Yr 12 we had 'Ofsted practice week', learning all the work and the responses and how to have a good discussion on it etc.

Then Ofsted came and we repeated all the lessons 'for real'!!!

I hope they didn't try that with the younger years, sure someone would have given it away in the first 2 minutes!

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