Alison Bradley, a senior Her Majesty’s inspector working in the South East, talks about the benefits of bringing together contracted Ofsted inspectors and Her Majesty's inspectors to reinforce good inspection practice
What better way to start the new year than to refocus and regroup? On Friday 26 January we brought together all the Ofsted inspectors (OIs) and Her Majesty's inspectors (HMIs) in the South East to discuss the way we inspect schools in the region. This workforce development opportunity – one of a range of national and regional training events organised by Ofsted – is a crucial part of our focused, responsible and intelligent strategy to continually improve inspection practice
So what have we been looking at in particular?
Capturing the right evidence
Inspectors have to be skilled at capturing compelling evidence that gets to the heart of a school’s effectiveness. They need to be careful not to take what they are told at face value, but to dig deeper to understand the real impact of a school’s work. At the event, we considered ways of looking beyond leaders’ assertions, actions and intentions to test whether a school’s teaching and learning initiatives have brought about positive outcomes for pupils.
In our myth-busting work, we have been very clear that inspectors must not imply that Ofsted has a preferred style of teaching, lesson planning or marking, because it is up to schools to decide how they do things. Our role is to evaluate "cause and effect", so we are working together to enhance inspectors’ skills in analysing a range of evidence to assess the impact teaching has on learning.
Our guidance for inspectors is very clear: published assessment data is just a small part of the available information on pupil outcomes. We emphasise the importance of getting the balance right between using this published data, which often relates to pupils who have already left the school, and looking at the progress current pupils are making across all year groups. We share best practice in using a wide range of evidence to evaluate how well pupils are developing depth of knowledge, understanding and skills across the curriculum.
Our OIs tell us they really value opportunities to work alongside HMI and to hear about regional matters and get updates on Ofsted’s current work from our regional director, Chris Russell. In turn, our HMIs value time spent with current school leaders, which many of our OIs are. We are confident that the time invested is more than worthwhile in terms of developing the skills of all our inspectors, and ensuring our inspections are consistently of high quality.
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