5th January 2007 at 00:00
Q I have heard Ofsted did not observe a teacher who told inspectors she had already had three formal observations in a year. Could this be true?

A Inspectors will not necessarily see every teacher teach and may agree to avoid particular teachers if they get a special request. They might decide to avoid a teacher who is under competency proceedings, for example.

The fact that a teacher happened to be observed recently by their line manager as part of routine monitoring or performance management would not usually be grounds for inspectors avoiding them - or else everyone would go monitoring mad as soon as they got the call in an attempt to ward off the inspectors.

Q I'm about to take up my first head of department post and the school has told me it expects an inspection soon.

It is a successful school and I'm sure it will be fine but I'm worried about how I will be judged. What should I focus on as a new manager in preparation?

A It is wrong to be worrying about what inspectors may or may not be looking for. That seems to be a case of the tail wagging the dog. You will probably want to get to know the department first - how it runs and what its strengths and weaknesses are.

You will doubtless look at test scores and relative performance indicators which help you to judge how well students do in your subjects, compared with others. If students do less well than in other subjects, you'll want to get to the bottom of why and do something to remedy the problem.

If they do better in your department than other subjects, you will want to know why so you can bottle it and extend the successes

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.uk

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