Ofsted blog: Sean Harford tells teachers at #PrimaryRocks event what Ofsted really looks at

5th April 2017 at 09:21

Engaging with the professions we inspect is important for Ofsted. It offers an opportunity to shed some light on what we look at when inspecting and to listen to the concerns of the sectors. I encourage my colleagues to attend events whenever they can, as I do myself.

Speaking at the Primary Rocks Live event at Medlock Primary School in Manchester gave me the chance to meet and talk with teachers and headteachers – in this case 220 of them on a Saturday. My respect goes to all those teachers who gave up their time on the weekend to share ideas, discuss issues and support each other.

The event generated a lot of comment on Twitter. I was pleased to see the keen interest in how we inspect, and in particular our messages about myths in those 140 characters.

Debunking the myths surrounding Ofsted inspections is important for everyone. So I will continue to reiterate that we DO NOT:

  • grade individual teachers or their lessons
  • have a preferred style of teaching
  • expect to see lesson plans when we observe teaching
  • expect performance/assessment information to be presented in a particular way
  • expect to see a particular frequency or quantity of work in pupils’ books or folders
  • expect to see marking of pupils’ work done in a particular way.

The myths that surround Ofsted inspections can create tensions. We’re not oblivious to that or the pressures on classroom teachers. So anything I can do to banish these myths is, I think, worthwhile. We have a document that highlights the main ones. And a set of films about these as well.

The #PrimaryRocks event also gave me a chance to highlight the key themes that we look at on inspection. Broadly they break down into four areas:

  • the emphasis on impact across all key judgements
  • the impact of the culture of the school
  • the importance of safeguarding as a golden thread throughout all of our work
  • the importance of a broad and balanced curriculum, that’s right for pupils.

For clarity about the inspection process your first port of call should be the school inspection handbook. And don’t forget to check out our myths document.

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