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Ofsted Inspections - WHY GIVE NOTICE!!

(33 Posts)
bossboggle Thu 06-Oct-11 20:24:06

Does anyone out there agree with me that OFSTED inspections should just happen - not with 48 hours notice, they should just walk in and see a school warts and all - not with the edges smoothed out - a good school should have nothing to change. A school about six miles away from us virtually sat on their year 8 and 9's and as it was an appropriate time of the year told their entire year 11 group not to attend on those two days that the ofsted team were in (from a year 11 pupil who had planned to go in as things were supposed to be happening for their year group but were cancelled!!) - the result was they were graded good with a few outstanding points whilst under normal circumstances the school population there causes chaos for the local residents with extreme bad behaviour and disgusting language directed at anyone who gets in the way. I think no school should have any warning and they should be judged for what they are not for how they wish to be seen!! Anyone agree?? My DS's school was recently judged good with outstanding teaching practices, yes they are good and are incredibly approachable for a senior school but they still warned their pupils about what standards were expected but at least ALL of the pupils were present and not just years 7 through to 10!!

bushymcbush Thu 06-Oct-11 20:54:41

I actually agree with you, and I am a secondary school teacher. Last inspection we had, we were given sheets of information we ought to know about and school was open until 9pm for the preceding two nights so teachers could stay late to prepare lessons / get up to date with marking etc.

The stress and pressure we all felt to work in a completely different way (and an unsustainably difficult way) to normal was immense.

We got a 'good' judgement. We probably deserved it - we ARE good - but we didn't need the 48 hrs notice to achieve it. All that achieved was very tired, highly strung teachers.

kritur Thu 06-Oct-11 21:00:11

Agreed also as a secondary teacher (albeit not currently teaching in a school). Last ofsted we got notice on the thursday for inspection on monday, the school was open all through the weekend and late night thurs/fri. There was a consultant in to check lesson plans, the cleaners and caretakers were armed with tins of paint (so much so that I got wet paint on my blouse and handbag), some pupils were curiously absent, as were some teachers....... The school got good (not a school I would count as 'good'). I personally got good with outstanding for my lesson but I didn't do anything different from what I would usually except I wrote a detailed lesson plan.

The whole thing is a fix, but then if it wasn't then society, government, parents etc would have to admit that there is something very wrong with what's happening at the moment.

bossboggle Thu 06-Oct-11 21:25:41

Totally totally agree, the extra stress placed on the teaching staff isn't good for anyone - you guys have a hard enough job to do anyway without being asked to look over your shoulders all the time!! Just let the inspectors in for two days and say look this is how we teach - it works for the other 99.99% of the time when you guys aren't around and we survive!! Much less stress!! Why can't you be left to get on with your job?? Never had OFSTED when I went to school just dammed good teachers - didn't need OFSTED!! And you know what .....we all got there in the end, so will today's youngsters and in how ever many years OFSTED will be just a blot on someone's bad memories in life!! If things can't be done honestly then they shouldn't be done at all!!

redglow Thu 06-Oct-11 22:31:04

I think lots of pupils are excluded for not much reason when ofsted is due. They should just turn up without any warning.

bossboggle Thu 06-Oct-11 23:25:25

Yes it all goes back to the presentation thing!! Ultimately schools present a false face to the outside world - wonder what the parents would do if they saw the real side of things??

twinklytroll Fri 07-Oct-11 00:13:25

As a teacher I agree.

TheFarSide Fri 07-Oct-11 00:19:14

Agree. I wouldn't have believed such a corrupt system could exist if I hadn't seen it with my own eyes.

gingeroots Fri 07-Oct-11 09:28:06

Absolutely agree ,warts and all should be seen + teachers avoid all dreadful build up .

bossboggle Fri 07-Oct-11 16:45:59

Any chance of mumsnet getting hold of the Education Secretary and telling him what mums really want??

bushymcbush Fri 07-Oct-11 16:53:04

bossboggle, I don't like your implication that parents would be horrified at what really goes on in school. I don't believe that given no notice, schools would get very different judgements. Bad teaching is bad teaching and good teaching is good teaching, no matter how prettily the school tries to package it up on the day.

callmemrs Fri 07-Oct-11 17:10:04

Agree op. If some pupils are really so difficult and unteachable (and I have no doubt some are) then its important that ofsted and the wider community know that. I have a few teacher friends, they do an amazing job and work incredibly hard and I think it's very unfair that ofsted are getting a Rose tinted view rather than seeing what these teachers are dealing with on a daily basis.

balia Fri 07-Oct-11 20:36:31

I understand what people are saying and the rationale behind it - but all Ofsted can ever have is a snapshot of a school in an incredibly short time. There is already a very limited period of notice, and whilst some schools may indulge in the sort of 'sharp practice' that has been described here, I'm not sure that they pull the wool over the inspectors eyes anyway. You'd have to be a pretty dopey inspector not to notice a sudden massive increase in exclusions, for example.

Obviously we want to showcase the talents of teachers and children - in a 2 day inspection a teacher may only be seen once, for half an hour. I wouldn't want to be administering a test, for example (which clearly needs to be done at various points) as there would be no way to show the inspector the standard of my teaching. Usually my teaching plans are for me - for an Ofsted inspector I would want to be able to show the rationale for what I was doing, explain all the things that are going on in my head. I need time, therefore, to prepare lesson plans for a different audience.

Would you think it was fair and reasonable to say that students should sit GCSE's without notice? Be asked questions that would determine their grade without revision or preparation?

CardyMow Fri 07-Oct-11 23:53:21

I totally agree. It would prevent me having to tell the mothers of the two dc at my DS's primary that have ADHD being excluded for bugger all JUST for the two days of the OFSTED visit. They didn't even correlate the two. One was excluded for two days for 'answering the teacher back when asked to sit down' (WTAF?), the other one was exluded for refusing to put his coat on at break time (it was HOT it was June...). The school also asked me if my DS2 (who has asd) could be 'ill' for those two days - they couldn't even find a SPURIOUS reason to exclude him, basically.

I told the school that they could do one, if he was well enough for school, then he would blooming well BE there.

I don't really pay any atention to Ofsted reports any more - they're a load of old codswallop. It's not a fair assessment of a teacher's ability - if they are of a good enough ability to TEACH my dc, then they shouldn't need ANY preparation for an Ofsted visit, as they should be teaching to the best possible level at ALL TIMES.

Ofsted inspections are a total load of toilet paper.

bossboggle Sat 08-Oct-11 07:42:28

Bushymcbush, don't want to diss all parents and ABSOLUTELY not the teachers but I also have the pleasure of helping out in a school and I see how much stress it puts on teaching staff, they are so wound up they don't know if they are coming or going sometimes!! Sadly some parents that we have just about know where the school gates are and don't give a flying fig about what happens beyond the gates but those parents are the first to kick off when they read the ofsted report and then pull the school to bits if it hasn't quite gone the right way!! Hell I totally agree that a good school is a good school and the same for the bad ones - if you want to send your child to a particular school, go visit, get under the skin and see if you like it - I like Hunty's comment too - ofsted inspections are total load of toilet paper!! Hee hee!! Let you guys do what you do best - teach!!

RedHelenB Sat 08-Oct-11 11:27:57

TBH, year 11s are usually the better behaved kids, year 9s & 10s tend to be worse!!

EvilTwins Sat 08-Oct-11 13:16:10

Speaking as a teacher in a school in special measures which has had OFSTED in a number of times and are expecting another this term, I agree that they don't WANT to see a "normal" day. On any given day, there are classes doing tests or controlled assessments, classes working on coursework and classes not there because they're on trips. Classes don't run because of a school event, or are involved in rehearsing for a concert. This does not help OFSTED make an accurate judgement about a school. They need to see teachers teaching lessons which can be judged against their criteria- a controlled assessment would not allow that to happen, neither would any of the other circumstances that make up a "normal" school day. The 24-48 hour notice SHOULD mean that a HT has time to make sure he or she is in a position to show OFSTED what the need to see. I agree though that the notice period should under no circumstances be an opportunity for schools to get rid of potential problem children- after all, no teacher would get an unfavourable report for having a disruptive child on the room- it's the way in which any disruption is dealt with that they're interested in. The notice period should also not be a cue for panic and insisting that things are done differently. That said, my lesson plans and marksheets are all on my laptop and I only print them if someone is coming in to observe- I need time for that. Imagine how in demand the photocopier would be if OFSTED turned up unannoumcedwink

EvilTwins Sat 08-Oct-11 13:16:33

Unannounced, obviously. blush

twinklytroll Sat 08-Oct-11 14:46:15

I think OFSTED can be stressful precisely because we get notice, if they just turned up I think it would be less stressful. You would just get on with it. However gone are the days when you got a period of notice in which things can be hidden, you now get about 2 days.

bossboggle Sat 08-Oct-11 20:27:15

EvilTwins - thankyou for making me smile - I've just got a vision of a melted photocopier on the staff room floor!! Yep - it would be quite a vision!! Mm!!

Kez100 Sun 09-Oct-11 03:41:24

Another good reason for notice - Governors are interviewed. It's an important part of the inspection. At our last one, given the short notice, we were without the chair (who was abroad) but four Governors were able to attend for the required amount of time with the notice. I know at least one of those who wouldn't have been able to make it if immediate.

kickassangel Sun 09-Oct-11 03:53:33

yes, there are some practical things that need to be put into place for the inspectors. i think the panic that some schools go, with attempts at 'rigging' the situations, are just ridiculous. BUT, the amount of time it takes to write out a lesson plan how ofsted wants it, means that teachers need time to plan etc.

that said, i've been in a school that was inspected when one year group was on a trip, ofsted just accepted that they would have to miss them out, you can't suddenly cancel a trip that's been planned for months.

Kez100 Sun 09-Oct-11 04:11:23

It might actually be more stressful not to know. To think every day you go to work they may be there, on the doorstep. At least knowing notice hasn't been served that can be put completely at the back of your mind.

So long as every school is treated the same the overall positive effect of the extra chances to dot i's and cross t's will be the same for everyone so no one will be disadvantaged.

NorfolkNCovern Sun 09-Oct-11 09:32:22

The notice has its advantages and disadvantages as outlined here.

As a school we roughly know when we will next be seen (usually a 6 month window, narrowed down if we know the Big O are in the area).

A school local to us got their inspection slap bang in the middle of their activities week. 3 year groups out on residentials and the other on day trips. I heard the lead Inspector loved feeding the elephants at the zoo!

I think the notice is mainly to make sure all the data has been collected into a format the inspectors can utilise and that the SEF is bang up to date.

sassyTHEFIRST Sun 09-Oct-11 09:43:11

Having just gone through this last week as a sec teacher, I can see both sides. Yes, it would be much more real if they dropped in without notice; however, Ofsted need to see that teachers can deliver great lessons and, without notice, might end up watching a Controlled Assessment being done in silence, or a bread and butter lesson on how to use apostrophes etc.

I was graded Outstanding - the way I taught was not that different from how I normally teach, but I did write a very detailed lesson plan which indicated what the group had learned over the last few weeks, how I cater for the very brightest students (A level) etc. This info was not have been at the inspector's disposal had she observed that lesson without 48hrs notice.

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