Q A

19th January 2007 at 00:00
Q Would it be fair to criticise my teaching if you saw me struggling with my Year 10 class? This is my 10th year as a teacher. I have been praised by Ofsted and my heads of department and have never previously had problems with behaviour.

I have worked with difficult classes in difficult schools and been successful. I am doing nothing different but my techniques do not work.

In any inspection, I believe the report on my lesson would read "inadequate, because the teacher was at fault". Just with this class. I believe this to be unfair.

A I'm obviously not able to make judgments about lessons third or fourth hand. However, if pupils are misbehaving to the extent that they are not learning and are disrupting the learning of others, then I'm sure you would accept that the lesson must be inadequate.

An inadequate lesson does not, however, mean that the teacher is inadequate. In instances of disruptive behaviour, it could be that the key weakness is in the school's systems for dealing with disaffected pupils and supporting teachers.

You seem to be saying that though your classroom management is effective with all other classes, it is ineffective with this class. Believe it or not, inspection is not about pointing the finger at individual staff or pupils. The issue in this case seems to be that, knowing that the problem exists, the school (not just you) ought to be doing something about it.

Even if you think a number of your Year 10 pupils have taken the decision that they don't want to learn, it is not reasonable for the school to just write them off. And even if they don't, what about those in the class who do want to learn?

Q We were last inspected in October 2003 and received a satisfactory report with many good elements. Is there any likelihood we are going to get an inspection this term?

A There are still some schools where it has been more than five years since their last inspection but that is no guarantee schools that were inspected more recently won't also get the call.

That does not mean the school should be holding itself in a state of continuous pre-inspection frenzy. It does mean self-evaluation, which is at the heart of the new inspection system, should be embedded in the school rather than something that is turned on for the edification of inspectors

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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