8th June 2007 at 01:00
Q We are due to be inspected this term. Already it is likely that we will have three staff off on long-term sick leave. All the cases are genuine, but it means supply teachers abound. Does this mean that I'll have more inspectors observing me than I would have normally? I want to do my best but don't want to crack under pressure.

A Don't panic. It is quite common for schools to have staff (and pupils) off in the summer term, not necessarily due to illness, but because of trips, induction visits and work experience. I don't think you need fear that this means you will be seen more than you otherwise would be. Certainly don't worry about being put under any greater pressure. And it's worth remembering that inspectors observe long-term supply teachers as well.

Q I was recently talking to a group that included college tutors and lecturers from initial teacher training, local authority advisers, Ofsted inspectors and school improvement officers. To my amazement, I found that all of them (about 10) taught in very small village schools or schools in desirable areas which, in turn, achieve good Sats scores.

How can such people judge your performance in challenging schools when they've never had to work in that kind of situation themselves?

A I lead an inspection every week and so have the opportunity to work with many different inspectors. I can assure you that they come from a wide range of backgrounds, including large and small schools, inner cities and leafy suburbs. Although you might argue that this is only anecdotal evidence, I am drawing on a rather larger sample than the one that you are extrapolating. I appreciate that different schools face different challenges, but I do not accept the implied premise that pupils in disadvantaged areas can't do well

Selwyn Ward draws on years of inspection experience. The views expressed here are his own. To ask him a question, contact him at askaninspector@tes.co.ukSelwyn regularly answers your Ofsted questions on our forums at www.tes.co.ukstaffroominspection

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