I’m writing this with my eyes half closed. I can barely look. Deep breath. Come on. Just type.
No. It’s too hard. I’ve got butterflies. The uncomfortable-sicky-sitting-in-front-of-an-interview-panel ones. Not the flitty-exciting-first-date ones.
Try again. Do a Winslet. Gather. Gather.
I. Love. Ofsted.
Phew, that was a rush. I guess that’s what confessional is like. Big build up then the release. Like the cork out of a bottle or the staff room on a Friday.
I should clarify.
Something pretty exceptional happened at the tail end of last week. After a visit to Ofsted towers by some wonderful bloggers – each one a Daniel entering the den – Mike Cladingbowl, Ofsted’s National Director for Schools, published a report called ‘Why do Ofsted Inspectors observe individual lessons and how do they evaluate teaching in schools?’.
Snappy, no. Groundbreaking, yes. You can read it here. Please do (and please also take a look at the bloggers and their blogs they deserve a link, a click and a read – twitter details below).
The document speaks for itself. It’s well written and engaging. Honest, open, human. It’s refreshingly free of the bureaucratic language that can alienate and keep people at arms length. In parts, it’s written in the first person. The author is clearly someone that knows schools, understands teachers and, most important of all, wants to get it right. A poacher turned gamekeeper. A gamekeeper who hasn’t forgotten where he came from.
The key bit, the game changer, is the clear and unequivocal message that Ofsted inspectors should not be grading lessons after popping their heads into a classroom for a few minutes. If you are a teacher that has survived an Ofsted you’ll get the significance of this. Something’s shifted. The monster has stopped breathing fire.
For the first time, I can lift text straight from an Ofsted document without any desire to scoff or to ridicule. I can do so because I agree with every word. Here it is:
‘On average, inspectors may spend only 25 minutes or so in each lesson. It would be nonsensical to suggest that an Ofsted inspector could give a definitive validation of a teacher’s professional competency in such a short time. We are not in the business of handing out badges that say ‘You are an outstanding teacher’ or the opposite. We leave that to others, who will use their own and other evidence to come to a conclusion. We would not expect any other professional, for example a surgeon, to be judged by peers on a single 25 minute observation of their work.’
I could stand and applaud.
Let this be the start of a new relationship between inspector and inspected.
Mike Cladingbowl – thank you.
Here are the people who helped make this happen:
And the man himself: