Inspection Myth Busting

27 Oct

A little while back Ofsted published a document tackling the misconceptions around school inspections. While teacher’s are familiar with school inspectors telling them what they should do this handy addition to inspection guidance outlines what the body does not expect schools to do or provide during, or before, inspection. It states, for example, that Ofsted DOES NOT:

  • require teachers or schools to provide individual lesson plans for inspectors, or previous lesson plans;
  • expect schools to use the evaluation schedules to grade teaching, or individual lessons;
  • require schools to undertake a specified amount of lesson observation;
  • expect to see a particular frequency or quantity of work in pupils’ books or folders;
  • expect to see unnecessary or extensive written dialogue between teachers and pupils in exercise books and folders;
  • expect performance and pupil-tracking data to be presented in a particular format.

The Ofsted document gives school leaders and teachers a much better understanding of what is required during an inspection. It is a handy myth buster that will hopefully help address some workload concerns and make the inspection process a more transparent and honest one.  This has been an important step and one that should be replicated in Wales. If Estyn were to undertake a similar publication it could help to reduce the pressures on teachers and school leaders and improve the relationship between those delivering education services and those inspecting them.  There remain far too many misunderstandings about what teachers and schools are required to undertake during the high pressured inspection period.

Workload pressures on teachers, which are already at unsustainable levels, are increased dramatically during an inspection period.  Very often we see school leaders creating unrealistic and unnecessary additional expectations for teachers to meet inspection criteria that simply do not exist.  We also see local authorities and regional consortia driving head teachers to undertake inspection orientated work that Estyn does not require.  Having a clear guidance document stating what teachers and schools do not need to do for inspection would give those going through the process the protection and assurances they need.

Hopefully Estyn will see this as an opportunity to provide clarity for the sector as a whole for future inspections.

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