Ofsted's blog: Reaping the rewards of a shadowing experience

27th September 2017 at 09:03

Last year Ofsted invited school leaders to apply to shadow an inspection. Anyone taking part in a continuing professional development (CPD) senior leadership programme, or aspiring to headship, was eligible.

Ofsted encouraged applications from underrepresented groups. There were 290 requests for information and 91 expressions of interest. Nine people were selected to shadow an inspection.

The shadowing opportunity offered senior leaders a chance to add to their CPD. Ofsted hoped it may help to increase the diversity of those wanting to be inspectors. An added bonus was having the chance to tackle any perceived Ofsted stereotypes and bust some inspection myths.

Those selected shadowed a Section 8 short inspection of a school currently graded good.

We caught up with four of them to get their feedback. They all agreed that it was a very useful and positive experience. Everyone felt it had made them more knowledgeable about the process of inspection. And they all planned to use what they'd learnt to improve their own practice in school.

What they told us:

"The inspectors were well prepared. They had reviewed a huge amount of documentation before arriving at the school. They were articulate and very experienced in observing lessons.

I definitely learnt from the process. The inspectors were clear about what impact the school was having. They highlighted that everything you do has to have impact (for pupils).

As a result I’m now thinking constantly about impact, progress and triangulation".

Amir Walji, Vice-Principal, Ken Stimpson Community School, Peterborough.

"It was a learning curve. Reading about an inspection and then seeing one in action was quite different.

She (the inspector) listened to the school leaders telling the school’s story. The inspector was very skilled at what she did: challenging, but not confrontational.

I would definitely recommend the experience; it was challenging, but satisfying.”

Farah Malik, Headteacher, Coton Church of England Primary School, Cambridge.

"I learnt a lot throughout the day, which helped to confirm my own skills and judgement. I now see, much more, how an inspector can help and assist teachers, the senior leadership team and governors.

Following this I have expressed an interest in being an inspector as I can see it’s all about improving a school.”

Emma Atkins, Assistant Headteacher, Ashcroft High School, Luton.

For me, shadowing helped to demystify inspection.

Shadowing the inspection made me realise that it's not about the paperwork. The important thing is the culture and practices.

It would be good if more heads get the opportunity to shadow. Particularly where they work in clusters and federations and can share the experience. I would wholeheartedly recommend it.”

Wayne Cooper, Headteacher, Spring Meadow Infant and Nursery School, Ely.

There are more opportunities to shadow an inspection. If you’re interested, and meet the essential criteria (below), please contact us.

Anyone applying must be:

  • from a Black, Asian or minority ethnic background
  • a serving practitioner with at least five years successful teaching experience and two years management experience in their field
  • up-to-date about knowledge and practices
  • educated to degree level or the equivalent
  • someone with Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) or a recognised teaching qualification for maintained and independent schools.

We are also interested to hear from people who would like to apply to train as a part-time contracted Ofsted Inspector (OI). It is important to be aware that all OIs we contract will be expected to train to become lead inspectors from the outset. We will expect a commitment to lead a number of inspections each year.

Please email us about anything in this blog or anything else.