A touch of class

22nd June 2007 at 01:00
Sue Hargadon is head of Farlingaye Maths, Computing and Arts College, in Woodbridge, Suffolk. Ofsted ranked Farlingaye as outstanding in an inspection in March

It is important to keep your staff up-to-date. We encouraged teachers to keep on top of their marking and made sure they knew what the school's improvement targets were. If they have done all their plans, they can focus on their teaching.

When you do your self-evaluation form (SEF), you have to be honest and make it easy to follow, but you also need the confidence to say what you believe. I felt we were an outstanding school, but I was reluctant to put it because I didn't want the inspectors to think I was complacent. I was planning to put "good" and hope they would put it up to outstanding, but the local authority adviser encouraged me to have confidence.

My deputy and I went on an Association of School and College Leaders course on preparing for inspection, where they had a session on how to write a decent SEF. Then I rewrote my SEF to make it less anecdotal and more evidence-based.

After the pre-inspection briefing, I made a list of all the points that had been raised and what evidence I had to support them, and a list of everything we needed to be looking out for in school.

We had five inspectors in for two days. They went into more lessons than I had expected and saw more than a third of my staff teach. When I said they had been mainly looking at teachers who were ranked satisfactory, they asked me to show them the teachers ranked good and outstanding.

You should do what makes you feel comfortable, and feel you are prepared for the process. There were a couple of things I hadn't updated in my SEF and I regretted it, but fortunately it didn't matter. The other thing we did was make sure there was plenty of tea and cakes.

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