Last week my school hosted 5 inspectors. I’ve always seen inspection as a positive opportunity.

Day 1

The inspection team spoke to the whole staff. I was seen by the lead inspector for half a lesson. Very pleased. At least one teacher was seen in each Humanities subject area.

I then attended a meeting for Curriculum Leaders. I was called because of the inadequate geography report last year. (I must attract Ofsted!!!!) The meeting focused upon the support networks and whole school initiatives. There was a clear concentration on how the senior team dealt with under performing staff and we got the impression that the team were looking for evidence of the schools vision and communication systems.

One clear point to metion is that the inspectors liked seeing plans and future stategies. However, dispite this their judgements were based upon the past and not the future.

Day 2

The second day was uneventful. The lead inspector mentioned that he couldn’t belive that he was visiting the same geography department written about a year ago. This was very positive, and I hope that this is mentioned in the final report.

Overall the school was ‘Good’ with some outstanding features. A great result for morale!

Top Tips for Heads of Department

  • Ensure that you complete a SEF document each year. Ensure that your decisions are based upon clear evidence. For example if RAISE online and / or Fischer Family Trust data says that your department is below national and school averages then it will be very difficult to argue that you work within a ‘Good’ department.
  • Make sure that you can demonstarte impact. This is about what you have done, not what you will do. For example, have intervention stategies and better tracking led to an increase in GCSE results? Compare the percetage of Level 6+ of the current Year 9 cohort with last years.
  • Sell the positive. There is something positive about all departments.
  • Ensure that you have a clear and systematic monitoring stategy. Are you sampling exercise books? Do you know if all teachers are setting targets within your department? How do you know? My advice is not to rely wholly upon lesson observations
  • When you get the call, help your staff plan lessons. Do not plan ‘one off’ lessons. Carry on teaching what ever was next as inspectors sometimes want to know where the lesson fits within the SoW. If you are covering something topical (such as the snow last week) ensure that your team highlights the fact that it is part of a wider ‘Floating topicality’ policy
  • Ensure that your team focusses on two aspects: marking and learning/teaching. The SoW, development plan are our resposibility
  • It is unlikely that all staff will be seen.
  • Make sure that you and your staff know how to use data in order to track progress.
  • Make sure that every pupils makes progress in every lesson. In addition, pupils should know how to reach their targets. We use tailored target sheets in the front of exercise books
  • Ensure that you are supporting and communicating well with staff now
  • The Pre Inpsection Briefing document will contain specific advice. For example, the team visiting us wanted to see, among many other features, evidence of community cohesion.

In the past I have used department meetiungs to communicate what Ofsted is looking for. ‘If we got the call today what would they be looking for?’ I like the current framework as the team are more likely to see what the school does now. I rememere undersgoing a 5 day inspection 4 years ago and the atmosphere for a month was horendus.

Also – as a geographer, make sure that your senior team know what you are doing to meet national agendas. Make sure that geography is mentioned in the SEF in global dimension, social cohesion, PLTS, APP, community involvement, ECM etc etc etc

My final post about Ofsted will contain a list of questions that I have been asked by inspectors.

Image by Flickr user kunalthedreamer and made available through Creative Commons.

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