Ask an Inspector - QA

12th September 2008 at 01:00

Q: I'd appreciate any advice on inspections as I'm expecting Ofsted to knock on my door soon. I have just started as headteacher and many things are not in place as I would like. What should I be focusing on ready for inspection and what should I change? I am worried that standards are below where they should be, and have picked up severe underachievement in key stage 2. Staff are happy, the school is happy, but I'm concerned. Will my head be on the block?

A: Inspectors certainly won't expect to see a new headteacher turn a school around overnight. At this stage, your focus should be on your vision for the school, not on what inspectors might look for.

It sounds like you have already embarked on the job of identifying areas for improvement. The next step will be to prioritise and formulate a plan.

Some areas for improvement might be considered quick wins and you have an opportunity to demonstrate impact and to involve staff in your vision; a short successful initiative is a good way to build staff confidence.

Don't forget that you need to set out clear and measurable success criteria for each priority, and that way, when inspectors call, you'll be able to show them where the school is going and how far it's already come.

Q: Our junior school has mostly-able children joining us in Year 3. We get a high percentage of level 5s in the Year 6 Sats, but our CVA (contextualised value added) score only hovers around the average. Does that mean that the best we can hope for is a satisfactory?

A: Not at all. CVA data is only one of several indicators that inspectors look at. Inspectors will appreciate that pupils who score level 3 in the key stage 1 assessments cannot realistically be expected to score better than level 5 in their KS2 tests.

However, the RAISEonline system can distinguish between a good level 5 and basic achievement at this level. The data compares pupils' performance with that of similar pupils and allows for the impact of changing schools at the start of KS2.

Selwyn has been an inspector for 15 years, working in primary and secondary schools. The views expressed here are his own. To ask him a question, contact him at


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