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Anybody been interviewed by Ofsted as a governor? What sort of thing do they ask?

(24 Posts)
BigBoobiedBertha Wed 26-Sep-12 09:23:52

Title says it all really. I have been selected to speak to Ofsted this afternoon as a parent governor but tbh, I have no idea what they will be asking and what they want me to talk about.

I think I have to spend the whole morning swotting up on facts and figures so any ideas on what their focus will be would be great. It's too late to ask the Chair, she is already at the school being grilled herself!


boschy Wed 26-Sep-12 09:35:23

HI - we went through this in Jan. We were a panel of 3 (chair, vice chair and me) with one Ofsted interviewer.

We were given no idea of questions in advance, but the following sort of things came up:
- how does the governing body monitor the school's progress?
- how do we challenge the school?
- how will we meet the Ebacc requirements?
- as training governor, what do you do to meet training needs (this was me)

What we did well was: we all spoke, we all answered bits of most of the questions, and the report said "governance was a clear strength".
We were also quite good at batting questions back that were not gov related, eg things which were SMT issues we said so.

our inspector was not at all clued up on the process, as the rules had just changed, so she spent most of her time poring over a check list.

HTH, good luck! (we got Good and would have been Oustanding under previous framework)

BigBoobiedBertha Wed 26-Sep-12 09:55:19

Thanks for your quick reply. That is really helpful. I hope we have a panel too. I know the Chair will be with me but I am not sure about anybody else. Thankfully we don't have Ebacc to worry about as it is a junior school but I am sure there will be something else to grill us on instead. It sounds like I can expect to have some questions directed at me as the SEN governor too.

I shall go and immerse myself in jargon and acroynms for the morning so I sound like I know what I am talking about and I can have my say.

I am also not sure if helps that we are subject to the new Ofsted framework or not!

Thanks again.

boschy Wed 26-Sep-12 10:43:36

oh yes, dont forget that you are perfectly entitled to refer to your paperwork, so if you dont know the exact answer you can say so and then say but its in the school plan/governors minutes/whatever and offer to find it.

Elibean Wed 26-Sep-12 11:48:59

Oh Lordy, this could be me any day now. I'm also responsible for training, so very helpful to read this thread!

Good luck BBB, let us know how it went.

boschy Wed 26-Sep-12 11:58:19

I think it's important to remember that you are a VOLUNTEER, and that you are not expected to know everything about the ins and outs of education, I found that quite reassuring to remember, so as long as you can prove ways in which you both challenge and support the school you should be ok. and again, you don't need to have the precise facts at your fingertips, just the knowledge of where to find those answers, and that the topic has been discussed by governors.

Elibean, re training, I had a copy of our training schedule to hand to refer to, and was asked how we decided what training to offer and when, and also whether we used external trainers at all. oh and what made me qualified to be the T&D gov (!!!!) - thought that was a bit cheeky tbh.

BigBoobiedBertha Wed 26-Sep-12 12:11:35

Thanks again both of you.

I have been thinking of ways in which we challenge the school and also a bit about monitoring as that came up in a recent SEN training course I went on as being part of the governor role.

An hour to go! Feels like a job interview!!

I will report back. smile

Mutteroo Thu 27-Sep-12 03:59:37

Ive been interviewed a few times in my roles as vice and chair of Govs. I was asked about curriculum issues when I chaired that committee & as chair was asked how I'd changed the Govs as i ad implemented lots of changes to ensure all governors played their role more effectively. I would say if you know your school, any questions will be easy to answer. They're not looking to catch you out Lory they were not a few years ago. Ofsted is a different animal now but people are always much the same.

Try not to worry about it. Yes it's nerve wracking the first time, but honestly it's not so hard to deal with. Good luck OP!

boschy Thu 27-Sep-12 09:14:25

How did it go BBB?

Elibean Thu 27-Sep-12 10:39:49

Also wondering how it went smile

Thanks, boschy, that's helpful. We always have external training - CPD offered by local authority, and although online courses are now available we always tend to go in person. I suppose we have at least two people attending some sort of training every term, sometimes a lot more.

I made a list of all the mandatory training courses, and who had covered what (HT's PM, Safeguarding, etc) but haven't kept a record of every single course attended - but could sort one out fairly easily by checking with school. I am not remotely qualified to be in charge of training, apart from the fact that I've attended a fair few courses myself shock!! I just flag up all the courses at every FGB meeting and make sure newbies get trained, and every aspect of CPD is covered. Should I be doing more?!

BigBoobiedBertha Thu 27-Sep-12 17:17:02


Well, I survived. The inspector was nice enough, he did smile and threw in the odd anecdote so that was OK. Can't stand it when they don't give anything away and can barely even communicate expect in questions.

From an interview point of view it was fine. It was me, the HT the DHT and the chair. He seemed to keep asking the same question of us governors - 'how do you know what how the school is doing'?, dressed up in various ways. I was there about 1.5 hours and I think about half of it was the HT and the DHT being asked about performance stats and then when they had finished, he looked at me and the chair and asked how much of that we already knew. Thankfully apart from one acronym I think it was pretty much everything. Maybe not the fine detail of each figure (like how much progress Y3 boys made in writing last year) but the overall picture was completely familiar. Phew. There was one pause when he asked what the school was doing to improve writing standards and there was silence, but I pulled that one out of the bag closely followed by the Chair filled in some of the gaps I left unsaid. You could almost feel the HT's sigh of relief.

From the point of view of the schools grading I think it was all a bit futile really. The school has made satisfactory progress - I think he must have said that about 6 times. It struggles to add value because the infant feeder school is outstanding and about half of it's children already come out of there at level 3 so even making more than 2 levels over 4 years is difficult and that is where you add value. It doesn't matter that the progress has improved in the last year or that the SIP is in place to acclerate progress or that the teaching standards, behaviour, and all the rest of it were good+, it doesn't yet show in the figures. Unfortunately, it wasn't long since the last Ofsted and all the changes and projects haven't yielded enough improvement. Over the course of one child's junior school career it will be good but as yet there is not enough evidence. It doesn't help that we are the beginning of the school year and can't really show how this year is going with the lastest SIP in place - the inspector couldn't do any learning walks or see things like a spelling wall because they haven't had time to evolve yet. Not much we can do it about now though.

And there was no opportunity to wax lyrical about the school either. All I managed to say was that I thought the school (and the governing body too) had changed a lot for the better since I started 4 years ago. I couldn't tell him about my experience as a parent nor the massive improvements the SENCO/DHT has made. I feel like writing a letter but it would be pointless quite apart from not being the 'done thing'! The results speak for themselves.

So, unless there was a miracle today, we shall be graded 'requires improvement' or whatever the new 'satisfactory' is and had better just hope that they inspect again within 2 years and we manage a good next time. The school and the staff really deserve it.

Off to the first FGB meeting of the year tonight, arranged before Ofsted arrived. The agenda was long enough and now with the visit to discuss it could be even longer. Or it could be really short if the staff have had enough!! Who knows!

BigBoobiedBertha Thu 27-Sep-12 17:21:16

Sorry that was a bit long. blush

I have been stewing about it all day! I keep thinking about the HT who was visibly disappointed yesterday after the inspector left the room. It is really not fair when you think of the effort she and the staff put in and how good they are.

Elibean - what you do sounds pretty much the same as what our training governor does. TBH I don't think there is much more you can do. Good luck when it is your turn too. smile

boschy Thu 27-Sep-12 17:40:10

Well it sounds as if you all did as good as you could, which is all that can be asked of you. It's a gruelling experience, I hope your HT brings some wine along for you all tonight!

BigBoobiedBertha Fri 28-Sep-12 15:07:39

Things may not be quite as bad as they appeared.............wink

Not official yet so am sworn to secrecy but day 2 must have been great!

boschy Sat 29-Sep-12 08:02:21

oh everything crossed for you here! let us know when you can!

boschy Tue 02-Oct-12 14:40:11

C'mon BBB, spill the beans!!! I am hoping you are celebrating...

Elibean Tue 02-Oct-12 15:50:35

Yes, spill BBB!

I think you did very well, and am sitting here struggling to put into words exactly how our school is improving writing across the entire cohort (I know it is, I've been in every meeting discussing it as am on Curriculum & Policy committee) and my mind is blank blushshock

It really is about how to convey what we know, rather than knowing more than we do, isn't it?

Thanks for reassurance, will certainly keep you posted - any day now, its 5 years since our last one so has to be imminent.

I can utterly imagine the frustration and wanting a great HT and staff to be recognized - hope you get the unofficially exciting news you are hoping for smile

boschy Wed 03-Oct-12 08:50:32

Yes Eli, it's understanding what they are asking and coming up with examples, so in the case of improving writing it could be:
- regular discussion with staff involved
- different levels of handwriting activity for diff age groups
- how you assess improvement, eg reviewing every 4 weeks or whatever.

You dont have to know everything, but you have to know where and how to find the answers if that makes sense? So you could say "I dont have the exact figure to hand, but it is in the SIP" or something.

We queried our inspector, because she said our exclusion level was higher than it was - she was wrong and we were right, but as a result we were able to tell SMT and the teacher in overall cntrol of the exclusions data went through it all again with the inspector so the result was clear.

Elibean Wed 03-Oct-12 15:25:18

Yes, that all makes sense. I am feeling a tad more ready: bring it on! (famous last words)

Thanks smile

BigBoobiedBertha Wed 03-Oct-12 20:54:56

Sorry, I have only just seen this - not ignoring you!

Still no official word. The HT said it could take 2 weeks but I looked at the Ofsted website yesterday and last time, it took 3 weeks for the offical report to go on there. I should imagine there is a delay between letting the school know officially and posting it on the website though so hopefully it won't be 3 weeks.

I will definitely let you know when I do hear. It has been a week already so any day now I suppose!

And yes I agree Boschy, it isn't so much knowing the hard facts but having an overview and knowing where to get the answers for the details. I have to say that apart from the question about writing, we weren't asked anything specific so despite having a pile of papers on my lap, I didn't have to refer to any of them in order to answer the questions. Probably the Big Write thing would have been well buried in some SIP committee minutes but not easily found so probably not worth looking. It was good to have them there as a comfort blanket all the same. smile

boschy Thu 04-Oct-12 07:21:11

No I'm sure you'll get official confirmation sooner than 3 weeks. I think we got the 'nod' on the Friday (final day of inspection) and then it was made official about a week later and the report went up after that.

Everything still crossed for you and Elibean!

BigBoobiedBertha Wed 17-Oct-12 16:58:12

If anybody is still reading this thread, it's official (at last) - we are a Good school. Whoop, whoop!

I feel surprisingly proud of everybody. It feels like a real achievement even though my part was very small. The HT, DHT and staff worked really hard though. They certainly deserve it.

Hope your inspection goes well when it comes around Elibean. smile

boschy Wed 17-Oct-12 17:27:29

Fantastic news! Good is vv hard to get these days we were told, so that makes it even more wonderful! many many congrats wine

BigBoobiedBertha Fri 19-Oct-12 11:07:08

Thank you. It has been a long time coming but really worth it.

My kudos seems to have increased with it too - I have been asked to go on the HT Performance review committee because I am so knowledgeable and trustworthy allegedly. I feel like I have passed some sort of test, never mind the school. grin

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