An inspector writes

12th May 2006 at 01:00
Selwyn Ward is the TES's inspection 'agony uncle', answering your questions on the new Ofsted process

The SMT in my school recently carried out a "pre-Ofsted inspection". I was given no official notification as to when it was to take place and only discovered it through an entry in our departmental diary. As a teacher being inspected, is it not something I should have had official notification about?

I wouldn't say there was any hard and fast etiquette for SMT conducting their pre-Ofsted "health checks". I am sure that practice varies widely from school to school. You could argue that it's more useful for school managers to observe teaching unannounced. Remember that schools now expect to get only two or three working days' notice of inspection. Even in the days when schools had months of prior warning that inspectors were coming, no advance notice was given during the inspection of exactly which lessons would be observed.

I have recently taken on the role of mathematics co-ordinator in our primary school. Maths Sats results last year were very low. Can I expect to be interviewed about my role (I am not a maths expert)? We are expecting an inspection any time.

From what you say it seems likely that inspectors will want to know the school's view as to why maths Sats were so low; whether there were any particular aspects of the subject that children fell down on, or whether there was significant underperformance of a particular group (most able, SEN, boys, girls, a particular ethnic group); and, most importantly, what the school is doing to raise standards. They will probably want to see what the school (not just you, but the headteacher and other SMT members) has done to monitor teaching and learning, and to track pupils' progress.

Inspectors would expect to find much of this information in the self evaluation form, but it is quite likely they will want to take the opportunity to discuss it further with you as the maths co-ordinator.

Given the new restructuring in schools, would Ofsted look at and comment on the management posts and the people who have been given them? Would they want to know who held them before and why changes have been made? Our head is putting great emphasis on this during our SMTmeetings.

I find it hard to imagine a situation where inspectors would comment on specific management appointments or former management staff. They might, however, be interested in the rationale the school puts forward for its reorganisation inasmuch as this may relate to its evaluation of things that need to be improved and its response to that evaluation.

It certainly isn't any part of inspectors' role to second-guess appointments panels!

Selwyn Ward draws on many years of experience in both primary and secondary schools, but the views expressed here are his own. You can raise any queries or worries that you have about inspection by logging on to the TES website at

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