The monster stops breathing fire

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.

Here goes:

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:




Filed under Ofsted, Schools

6 responses to “The monster stops breathing fire

  1. I’m not so sure about a change in relationship between the inspected and the inspector. In my experience in the primary sector, Ofsted examine the raise online data and then visit classes looking for bad teaching, and apparently finding it in classes whose data isn’t up to scratch. Of course, the progress of a class is a nebulous thing, depending on their previous years’ experiences, the numbers of transient pupils, EAL pupils and special needs, and cannot be solely attributed to poor teaching, and often isn’t in my experience. But poor data results is all that Ofsted appears to see. I’m not sure that radical change will be achieved through publishing a disingenuous document!

  2. The sense of prior judgement in Primary, based on dubious data, is definitely resonant, but Mike Cladingbowl’s intervention into the lesson grading minefield is certainly a good pause for thought. I’m loath to heap praise on anyone yet, however, given that so many of us are not due back in school until next week.
    The really interesting thing will be the response from SMT and the OFSTED inspectors filling reports in the next few weeks; let’s see how long it takes for the message to get to them before suggesting the fire-breathing over…

  3. Reblogged this on Stay a while… and commented:
    Finally..the Ofsted cloud lifts…blue skies? Perhaps…virtual hugs sent out to all those bloggers who helped make this happen 🙂

  4. Pingback: The Journey of the Blogi | Clerk to Governors

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s