Is Ofsted outstanding?

Is Ofsted outstanding?

This week it was announced that Ofsted was ditching 1,200 school and college inspectors after assessing them as not good enough to judge schools. The move by England’s education inspectorate is part of its plan to improve quality and consistency, and bring inspections in-house. Teachers have long complained about inspection quality, but Ofsted insists it does not mean it is substandard.

Speaking to the Times Educational Supplement, Sir Robin Bosher, Ofsted’s head of quality and training, said the organisation wanted to have high quality inspectors. He said: “I am committed to making sure that my colleagues in headship can be assured they have a good inspector walking up the path. I’m determined that will happen.”

But National Association of Head Teachers general secretary Russell Hobby said: “You look back and say, for the last few years we’ve been inspected by a group where 40% weren’t up to the job. If Sir Michael Wilshaw had done this from the start, we would have avoided everything that has followed. If people could say, ‘It’s tough but fair,’ then fine, but it was tough and unfair and tackling that should have been a priority.”

Back in 2012 Sir Michael Wilshaw said ‘I believe we need to radically improve our education system and that we need to work together to raise expectations, and close the gaps. The prize is worth having: a good or better education for all our young people, with no excuses accepted.’

It is intriguing that it has taken 3 years for action to be taken inside the very institution that is grading teachers and schools. Sir Michael said “we stand by the inspections that we have done in the last few years. The teaching profession is always being asked to improve and reform, and Ofsted is no different.

Is Ofsted outstanding?

Like Marmite, educators are divided over Ofsted. For Ofsted to come out and say they have got it wrong is good but to cover up inspections that have taken place with rogue inspectors is not.

I have become disappointed that Ofsted does not fully recognise the good work that teachers do in their everyday work. We are all trying to develop, improve and make our teaching the best we can. I do think the government, Ofsted and Sir Michael do need to acknowledge that not all teachers and schools are terrible. As teachers we do seem to get a bad press and not enough support from the people who make the decisions at the top. Like praising a student, praising a teacher can work wonders. Teaching is a great profession but we have to careful we do not put too many pressures on our teachers, as we might find people leaving and causing further issues further down the line. We do not want a situation where young graduates don’t choose teaching as a career or leave after two or three years.

But we do need to continue to raise standards and continue to develop our education system. Changes do need to be made but the right ones. Change for the sake of change is never any good and I do worry that perhaps some institutions will put action plans in place without thinking through the consequences.

Good and outstanding leadership of teaching and learning drives improvement and knows that the culture of the school and the progress of pupils depend on it. To me this makes sense as I believe a school should be based on its teaching.

According to Pasi Sahlberg, Director General of CIMO in Helsinki and author of Finnish Lessons: what can the world learn about educational change in Finland?, ‘it takes 10 000 hours practice to become a great teacher’. This is about 8 to 10 years active service. Therefore consideration must be taken into account for new teachers when inspections are taking place.

I have been teaching twelve years as a teacher. Even now, I am still learning and developing as a teacher. Am I the finished article? Not even close. Ofsted need to recognise that teaching is a career that is constantly evolving and we need to work together. Throughout my twelve years as a teacher it has felt we have two very different remits where Ofsted keep changing the goal posts. We have to work together or education will not develop in the way we wish it to.

With the summer holidays fast approaching we have to be positive and be innovative in our approach to teaching. I thought it would be good timing to revisit Sir Ken Robinson explain his future of education. This animate was adapted from a talk given at the RSA by Sir Ken Robinson, a world-renowned education and creativity expert. Enjoy!

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