18th July 2008 at 01:00
Q: I have just been to a meeting about teacher self-evaluation

Q: I have just been to a meeting about teacher self-evaluation. I was given a form to fill in with various questions about my work and teaching. Is this something to do with Ofsted?

A: No, this is nothing to do with Ofsted. Ofsted expects schools to self- evaluate, and there is an expectation (but not a legal requirement) that schools will complete an Ofsted self-evaluation form (SEF). This is a whole-school document.

It is good practice for school leaders to involve other staff in the SEF, but inspectors do not expect, or have any need, to see any of the subject or departmental SEFs that are sometimes generated, nor certainly any individual teacher self-evaluations.

I am not saying there isn't a place for these - school leaders may have good reasons for involving teachers in this way - but it is not something inspectors will ask for.

Q: Where does Ofsted publish its recommended format for lesson plans? I have searched the Ofsted website but cannot find it.

A: You won't have found an Ofsted lesson plan because there is no such thing. Inspectors do not prescribe the format of lesson planning - that is entirely a matter for individual schools.

Often teachers prepare lesson plans when they are being inspected even though they would not produce written plans on a routine day. But this is not at the inspectors' request.

I have inspected schools with written lesson plans in every imaginable format, and I have seen effective lessons where no written plans were proffered.

If your school is one of those that decides to produce plans for inspectors' benefit, it is always helpful to include a note of the number of pupils in the class and any seating arrangements, as this is information that the inspector is required to complete on their observation form.

Q: Another school in our town was inspected by the same inspector and the reports use almost identical wording. Is this usual?

A: Certainly not. Every school is different and, though reports are short and there are certain elements that have to be expressly covered in all of them, they should be individual to each school. Ofsted rightly takes a dim view of inspectors recycling prose.

Selwyn Ward

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

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