23rd February 2007 at 00:00
Q We had the inspectors in this term. They saw good teaching, good attitudes and behaviour, and pupils making good progress. They said the school was well led. They praised the curriculum and said pupils were given good care and support. Everything was graded good except for achievement, which was only satisfactory because of our Sats results. Despite all of our "good" marks, we were only judged to be satisfactory overall. Isn't this unfair?

A I've been in schools like the one you describe. They have perhaps not done as well in the past but the teachers and school leaders have now got it right and pupils are making good progress in lessons. This may not be reflected, however, in pupils' achievement as much of the improvement is recent.

I would expect inspectors to highlight and help celebrate the improvements and the things that are now being done well. It is not unreasonable, though, for them to take the view that for the school to be categorised as good overall, it needs to be able to demonstrate that good teaching and other strengths can be sustained and translated into results in the national tests that show similarly good achievement or progress over time.

Q I am a good teacher but I really struggle with spelling. Will inspectors fail me over this?

A Inspectors do not pass or fail teachers. When they are in lessons, they grade the effectiveness of teaching by assessing how well the pupils are learning.

Whether a teacher's poor spelling would make a lesson inadequate would depend on the circumstances. I have seen examples of teachers setting lists of spellings to learn, several of which are wrong; and examples of teachers "correcting" a properly spelt word with an inaccurate spelling. Where this occurs, you should expect inspectors to voice concerns.

Many years ago, I used to review computer games. In those early days of domestic computing, it used to be said that if the user spotted a glitch in the software it was a "bug" but if the designer spotted it first, it was a "feature". Perhaps you should consider making your spelling problem a feature rather than a bug.

I have seen teachers successfully turn such difficulties into good learning opportunities for children. For example, by encouraging the pupils to check and correct a teacher's spelling

Selwyn Ward draws on years of inspection experience. The views expressed here are his own. To ask him a question contact him at Selwyn regularly answers your Ofsted questions on our forums at

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