An inspector calls
Firstly, make sure that you and the inspectors are on the same wavelength. I can understand that you may not necessarily welcome the news that you are being inspected, but Ofsted has done its best to ensure that the inspection process is open and transparent.
Inspectors will make their judgments against Ofsted's evaluation schedule. This describes all of the main inspection judgments, as well as guidance on the sort of information that is likely to lead to particular findings. This is an open document and is available for download from the Ofsted website (www.ofsted.gov.uk) alongside other guidance documents for inspectors.
Always make sure that you have the latest version. A major revision is expected for inspections from September 2009. The schedule will show you the criteria that inspectors will be applying and so help you in identifying what you need to show them.
It's always a good idea to have an eye to the schedule when deciding your self evaluation grades before you finalise your self evaluation form (SEF).
Although all inspections follow the current evaluation schedule, you can expect your inspection to have a specific focus tailored to the circumstances of the school. For example, if your recent test scores show boys not doing as well as girls, then inspectors may want to hone in on that to explore why it is so, or what the school has done to boost the boys' performance.
If the self evaluation grades in your SEF offer an unusual combination, then you may expect inspectors to explore this. For instance, where a school grades its teaching and learning to be outstanding but where pupils' progress appears only to be satisfactory.
Again, there will be no surprises here. The lead inspector will set out the initial inspection focus in the pre-inspection briefing that the headteacher can expect to receive on the day before the inspection. In fact, the only surprise should be the call itself.
Selwyn Ward 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, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.