What could OFSTED do differently?


Inspired by Stuart Lock’s post I’ve been thinking about what an Ofsted team could do in a school that might give a better picture of the school and what it is really like for the children that attend. I know time is limited in an inspection but I’m going for quality not quantity.

Here are a few suggestions:

Pre-inspection SLT report

Before Ofsted arrive the senior leaders should be told to write what they think the bullet points for improvement will be on this report I.e they know what Ofsted are going to say, they know what they need to do. Not a 20 page SEF. Just those bullet points. Seeing if they match or not should lead to further discussion.

Student trail

One inspector chooses one child. They are given all data about the child including all of their books, reports, SEND, all teacher data since they joined the school etc they the follow them for the day (possibly including break/lunch and if time is  a problem just the first and last part of each lesson). They should scrutinise all the data to see if it accurately reflects what they are seeing I.e if the school data system says they are working at level 5 in Science but the book and lesson don’t concur with this then there may be a problem.

They could then also speak with the child as much as they can without interrupting their learning and could interview them separately. This would be to try and triangulate what they read and seen about this student. They might also speak with their parent/guardian to further clarify if things match.

If there are long lessons they could possibly do this for two or three children during the day.

Interview staff

Not just teachers. Not just middle leaders. Not just those from core subjects. As many staff as possible (Not just one panel over two days). Ask them questions that will support or challenge all other data.

Make the teacher survey compulsory. Give a student survey as well. Make them electronic so they auto analyse. Publish the results to all staff.

Speak with the caretakers and cleaners.

One inspector should spend most of the two days doing this.

Interview students

Don’t allow the school to organise this. Speak with many many students. Not just a small group.

Speak with them at break and lunch.


Observations  still happen but without a grade. However if a teacher is observed they should be interviewed for 10 minutes BEFORE the lesson and 15 minutes after. Not to judge the lesson but to establish how their lesson fits into the whole picture. They should have to show their mark book. Tell the inspector about the class. Who they are concerned about. Who their vulnerable children are. What they are doing to intervene. How this lesson fits into their scheme. How they felt it went. How it links with school priorities . How it links to their development targets and the CPD they’ve had to support this. It’s not feedback by the inspector, it’s a discussion about the class & the teacher.

Then speak with leader who line manages the person observed. Ask them what they think was seen. Do they know their team? Ask them questions to see how they work with their team. Check if it all matches.

SLT should be seen teaching.

The inspector should use all this information to triangulate with other sources.

Does this usually happen?

Possibly the best question they should use throughout the inspection with everyone.

Stand at the front gate from 8am both days and at end of school both days

Speak to the students that are late. Ask why. Ask what happens to them because they are late but also ask other questions. These are the students who may be the voices that tell a different story.

Speak to parents dropping off/picking up.

Knock on a few local doors. Ask residents their views. Do they know what is going on at the school. If there is a problem is it dealt with quickly.

On reflection I think that some of these inspectors are supposed to do but my emphasis is the amount of time doing this instead of interviewing senior leaders, the people with the biggest vested interest in the school.

Pre-inspection documentation should give as much info as possible so the inspection is about triangulation. Triangulation with with those that didn’t write it.


9 thoughts on “What could OFSTED do differently?

  1. Pingback: Teacher Training and that Ofsted News | Panic, Greatdays, Cgrades and Equivalentfractions (PGCE)

  2. Pingback: Bloggers lead the campaign to reform Ofsted | Pragmatic Education

  3. Pingback: Bloggers lead the campaign to reform Ofsted | Pragmatic Education

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