6th June 2008 at 01:00
Q: If an inspector criticises my lesson, shouldn't I be able to hand them the chalk and ask them to demonstrate how they would do it better?
Q: If an inspector criticises my lesson, shouldn't I be able to hand them the chalk and ask them to demonstrate how they would do it better?

A: Different jobs call on different skill sets. We have all met colleagues who were good class teachers, but once promoted were hopelessly out of their depth as managers.

Similarly, though you may think it ought to be, inspection is not about modelling lessons. It is not even about imposing some preferred methodology. It is about gauging how well what a school is doing works.

Inspectors need objectivity and good observational and analytical skills when looking at current and past data. They also need good oral and written communication skills. Certainly these are among the key components of the skill set that come first to mind.

If, for whatever reason, a school is not as effective as it could be, then it is fruitless to turn to the inspector and demand that they do better. Whether they could or not is irrelevant.

What is more helpful is to explore what the specific shortcomings are that could be changed to make the school more effective. Q I was told my lesson was excellent, but the inspector said Ofsted doesn't have "excellent" as a grade anymore so it was "good with outstanding features". Another colleague was told their lesson was "very, very good". Does that mean it was "good" or "outstanding"?

A Although individual lesson grades will not appear in the inspection report, Ofsted does expect inspectors to offer feedback on lessons, and expects inspectors to give a clear indication of the lesson's effectiveness.

If the inspector's feedback leaves you unsure of how the lesson was graded, then ask there and then. If a lesson is graded anything other than outstanding, the inspector should be able to point to something specific that could have been done better.

I would expect a lesson described as "excellent" to be graded as "outstanding".

Although the grades under Ofsted's old seven-point inspection scale - where point one was "excellent" - do not translate precisely to the current four-point grade scale, I would have questions about the calibration of an inspector who graded a lesson as one on a seven-point scale, but thought it only two on the new scale.

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 askaninspector@tes.co.uk.

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