13th April 2007 at 01:00
Q Inspectors saw only a small part of a maths lesson in each class when they visited our school, and then talked to the senior management team, the head and some children.

At the end of the first day they decided they had seen enough and spent the second morning typing up their report before leaving early.

We were rated as good in everything but they then said our lessons were too long and boring and the curriculum wasn't stimulating enough.

Apparently they decided this by looking at timetables they asked us to fax to them. These were not detailed as we give more information in our planning folders. If they had mentioned their concerns to us, we could have referred them to our planning folders.

We felt angry and frustrated at the way we were treated.

A Inspection should involve continuous dialogue so there ought not be bombshell judgments dropped on the school without a chance to comment.

Of course, inspectors cannot see everything but they should normally be sharing emerging hypotheses and initial findings with the head.

That gives the school the chance to draw further evidence to inspectors'

attention. Indeed, inspectors' initial hypotheses will be shared with the school before the inspection starts.

The pre-inspection briefing, usually made available to the head the day before the inspection, will detail the issues that will be at least the initial focus.

The school will know from this, and Ofsted's inspection framework, what inspectors will look at and why.

However, I should point out that timetables can be perfectly valid evidence to refute or corroborate what inspectors see in lessons. For example, if they see that pupils' concentration is lapsing or they are getting restless towards the end of lessons, that could indicate the lessons are too long or activities are not varied. Inspectors may then see from timetables that, say, maths lessons are timed to run for 75 minutes every day. Timetables may also indicate a lack of curriculum balance, for example, so much literacy and numeracy that other subjects are squeezed out

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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