Ask and inspector

15th December 2006 at 00:00
Selwyn Ward draws on years of inspection experience. The views expressed here are his own. To ask him a question contact him at

Q Can you tell me how Ofsted might view the fact that we do not have a formal baseline assessment in reception? Many children come from private nurseries so do not have foundation stage profiles. We assess the children informally during their first four weeks and use this information as our entry data. Our foundation stage co-ordinator thinks we should be doing a formal baseline assessment. Do you?

A Your foundation stage co-ordinator is, I think, correct. Inspectors will want to know the school's view about children's attainment on entry, because that will form the basis from which to assess progress and achievement, particularly in the foundation stage. They will want to know how the school establishes that children are average, or above or below.

Most schools will have a policy and procedure for making baseline assessments, commonly based on local authority recommendations. If the school has its own way of doing things that is especially unusual or differs from local guidance, it presumably has a reason for doing so, and can explain this to the inspectors.

Q I am about to start at a new school in Wales, and have been told it will probably have an inspection within the coming term. I haven't experienced one before and was wondering if there is anything I could do to make it easier?

A The notice of inspection is much longer in Wales, and the methodology of inspections is also quite different, in that they involve a nominee of the school (often the headteacher) to, in effect, be part of the inspection team. I mention this to warn you that many of the comments you will have read will not be wholly applicable to inspections by Estyn (the Welsh inspectorate). I would suggest, though, that common to both systems is the fact that inspectors will want to see the school as it really is. You shouldn't feel that you need to do things because that's what inspectors want to see. If you are doing what's best to help make your pupils happy and secure in school and make good progress in lessons, then you will have nothing to worry about when inspectors come to call - under whichever jurisdiction

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