Do it to yourself before they do it to you

30th June 1995 at 01:00

Putting Inspection in its Place: A Guide to the New System for Secondary English Departments. By Frances Findlay, Patrick Scott and Shona Walton, National Association for the Teaching of English 6.95 (members 5.95) - 0 901291 390.

Inspection and the Secondary School Library: Preparing the Paperwork: A Workbook, Hertfordshire Schools Library Service 7.50.

Putting Inspection in its Place is a guide for English departments written by three registered inspectors, one an ex-Her Majesty's Inspector and one an ex-chair of the National Association for the Teaching of English.

They urge English teachers to get the best out of inspection by regarding it as "something which can be done for you" rather than "something which is done to you".

The task of the English inspector is clearly outlined, with explanations of the inspection requirements relating to the English department, and a reminder that the first concern will be standards achieved and the quality of learning.

Heads of department and their teams are told how to prepare for the inspection and what to expect during the week. The core documents and records show the department's policies for pupil grouping, resource reviewing, provision for special needs, genderethnicity monitoring and other key areas, as well as schemes and units of work. Observational discussion during the inspection will show the inspector how these work in practice.

Practical advice includes exemplification of how "learning skills" may be demonstrated in the English lesson - in group work, the study of a text, in writing and reading. The criteria for lesson evaluation are explained and some of the teachers' questions anticipated. It is teaching and not teachers that will be assessed, as recent revisions to the Framework emphasise.

Inspection and the Secondary School Library is a timely publication from Hertfordshire's School Library Service. Its focus is the documentation which librarians should produce before an Office for Standards in Education inspection, and a careful survey indicates the important contribution a well-run, well-used library can make to the quality of learning in a school.

An introductory comment suggests this has not always been recognised in OFSTED inspections. Unlike curriculum subjects, the school library does not have a separate report. Inspectors' comments on library provision appear in the sub-section "Resources and their management".

The workbook recommends a library handbook, handbooks for students, policy statements on equal opportunities, special educational needs, and schemes of work for library induction and the teaching of study skills. It asks a series of questions designed to help librarians plan and organise these, carefully linking the various sections of the Framework to library policy, staffing and practice.

Both these publications encourage schools to see inspection as an opportunity for stock-taking, honest self-assessment and development planning. Their recommendations are based on a sound understanding of OFSTED inspection, but they have a wider use as endorsements of good practice for any secondary department or OFSTED inspection team.

Jeanne Strickland is an English inspector.

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