13th June 2008 at 01:00
Q: When we were inspected, the report praised the headteacher for improvements in the school but there was little mention of the individual heads of department
Q: When we were inspected, the report praised the headteacher for improvements in the school but there was little mention of the individual heads of department. Is it usual for the figurehead to get most of the recognition?

A: Inspectors will make judgements about leadership and management as a whole. They are not supposed to write about individuals other than those named on the front page.

They can write about the headteacher and the chair of governors but they should not be writing about the deputy head or, for example, the literacy co-ordinator or the head of the English department. Expect instead to see reports referring more broadly to the contribution of subject leaders or the senior leadership team.

There is no requirement for inspectors to make specific judgements or comments even about the headteacher - although many reports still include personal comments.

Q: When we were inspected last term, standards were graded as 3 - even though our pupils did well in some subjects, especially in science. Our neighbouring school was inspected a few weeks after us and it also had a 3 for standards even though its Sats results are much worse than ours. It seems ridiculous that both schools end up with the same grade when our results are much better.

A: Inspection grades are shown in the inspection judgement (IJ) table at the back of each report. With only four grades, each is quite broad. The grade for standards often causes the most controversy and confusion, which is why the IJ table in each report includes a brief explanatory footnote.

This explains that grade 3, in relation to standards, means "broadly average to below average". It sounds from your account that standards in your school were in the broadly average range (which could mean that standards in some subjects could be above average).

On the other hand, the standards in your neighbouring school may be below average - though not so low as to be judged "exceptionally low" (which would have made them grade 4).

It is important to remember too that inspectors will look beyond just the Sats results. They will also look at the school's evidence for current standards, especially where the school is saying that these differ from the most recent test scores.

This may especially be so where quite a lot of time has elapsed since the Sats, ie, for inspections in the second half of the year. Don't get too hung up about the numbers in the back of the report. I would expect the text of reports to make it clear to parents and others who read them where standards are broadly average and where they are below.

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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