Last month, Ofsted’s North East, Yorkshire and Humber regional team held a conference and training day for their contracted inspectors (Ofsted Inspectors (OIs)) and Her Majesty’s Inspectors (HMI).
These training days take place in the region twice a year. They are a great opportunity for our HMIs and OIs to get together, discuss inspection and support each other.
Andy Jones, Ofsted inspector
The day started with a shared taxi from the train station to York Racecourse with a number of teachers who were attending a different event. Conversation flowed smoothly until I mentioned that I was attending the regional Ofsted training event, when suddenly, albeit light-heartedly, I became "the outcast".
What is always so refreshing at our regional conferences is seeing so many friendly, familiar faces who we have either trained alongside or teamed with on inspection. Rather than being "out to get schools", the mood among attendees is always positive and the rhetoric supportive, with school improvement top of the agenda.
The event in York was built around a number of workshop options. Personally, being about 18 months in as an inspector, with many more years as a serving headteacher, I was eager to learn about the new Inspection Data Summary Report (IDSR). We worked through a number of examples and I began to understand how the IDSR can work alongside Analyse School Performance (ASP) to help us get a feel for schools before an inspection.
Later in the day, Claire Brown HMI led a work scrutiny session, which was both informative and engaging – no small achievement, last thing on a Friday afternoon. We explored practical "ways in" when faced with a room piled high with exercise books and how to use prior and current assessment information to support judgements about learning and progress. Discussion was particularly focused on the benefits of working alongside school leaders throughout the process.
My third workshop, "So you want to be a Lead Inspector?" was a bit of a longshot, but my questions – or fears – such as "as a primary practitioner, will I be asked to lead a secondary inspection?" were addressed. The inspectors presenting were warmly encouraging and there does appear to be a comprehensive package of support for new lead inspectors going out on inspection.
So yes, they convinced me. I’m interested in leading an inspection, so watch this space…One day I may personally have the opportunity to show my new taxi acquaintances that Ofsted can work with, rather than against, schools. And that it recognises exceptional achievements, often under the most challenging of circumstances.
Tricia Head, Ofsted inspector
As a relatively new inspector, who finished training a little more than two years ago, I was initially a bit at sea when attending Ofsted’s termly national conferences. I felt conscious that everyone else in the discussion groups knew more than me. While the national conferences are valuable – because they convey the corporate importance of the work we do and ensure that we have key messages throughout the year – the regional inspector conferences are designed to offer something different, but equally important.
These regional events are relatively new, but it already feels like they are making a significant contribution to establishing a sense of community. Being able to put more faces to names with the opening introductions and the seating plan was a great way to start the day.
Meeting up with colleagues who you have come to know quickly through the intensity of an inspection is also welcome. As someone who goes straight from an inspection back into school, the chance to reconnect and reflect with other inspectors is highly valued.
From my point of view, a conference that allows time to share experiences, learn from your peers and attend workshops that target inspection practice is well worth coming out of school for.
Interested in becoming an Ofsted inspector?
We are always keen to hear from senior education leaders who want to become an Ofsted Inspector. So please do get in touch with us if you’re interested, particularly if you are seeking a role in the North East, Yorkshire and the Humber region.
If you need another incentive to apply, in our recent Ofsted inspector survey, 100 per cent of headteachers and school leaders who contract with us in the North East, Yorkshire and the Humber said that they have gained knowledge and experience that will benefit their school.