My school is sitting in the pre-Ofsted anticipation phase. As any head will tell you, as much as we all dread the phone call, we also don’t want to sit in this period for too long because it is fairly unsustainable. And so I find myself willing something upon my school that will possibly be to its detriment – I am expecting issues because of our stance as a truly inclusive school.
I know my school is a good one, and in many aspects an outstanding one. I am blessed with staff who are committed to their jobs and the children, and who go above and beyond on a daily basis. I know that they are working to capacity.
But what will Ofsted make of us?
Our school is slightly unconventional. We are a committed beach school with an enquiry-based curriculum. We are firmly a part of our community and we are incredibly proud of our relationship with our families. Our catchment is incredibly diverse and many families work in the tourism trade (which brings about issues I blogged about).
I don't expect Ofsted to have any issues with the above – as former TES Primary School of the Year West Rise Junior School has shown, Ofsted embraces innovative and different approaches.
'Inclusion is a priority'
Where we might have issues, though – and the reason I am anxious – is our data.
Two years ago, after an extended upward trend, it peaked at outstanding. But now, two cohorts later, the school requires improvement. Next year, it should be outstanding again.
This is due to the specific cohorts we’ve had – one with high mobility, and one with a high level of children with special educational needs and disability. Our progress is good, but our attainment suffered.
We are an inclusive school. We pride ourselves on doing the best by every child who comes through our door, and many children have succeeded with us after a record of failure. We take every student we can from the start and we have multiple new arrivals in Years 5 and 6 because we believe every child deserves a chance.
I am lucky – I have a fully supportive governing body that believes in inclusion, and spends time in our classes to really understand the nature of our school. They do not see a decline in data as the school taking its eye off of the ball.
I don’t have an issue with Ofsted at all and I have had many positive experiences with them; in the school where I took my first headship, Ofsted had clearly done right by the children by placing it special measures.
But I recognise the pressures on data now and so I remain anxious. I hope the inspectors can see what we are trying to do here and, most importantly, I hope that they recognise that the achievements of our school are so much broader than just its key stage 2 data.
Christina Zanelli Tyler is headteacher at West Cliff Primary School in Whitby, North Yorkshire