QA

10th November 2006 at 00:00
Q Will inspectors check that governors are ensuring an appropriate worklife balance for their staff?

A Inspectors have been given guidance reminding them that teachers'

worklife balance should be taken into account when making judgements about leadership and management.

Arrangements for workforce planning may well be reflected in the school's self-evaluation form (SEF). Even under the old inspection system, I frequently was able to look at these arrangements reflected in the old form S4 and in other school planning documents.

When talking to governors, I often used these as a practical example to help me gauge their overview of the school and approach to planning. This was particularly useful in primary schools, where teachers were less likely to have previously had non-contact time.

I suspect there is rather less scope to pursue this under current inspection arrangements. Remember, reports are much shorter and there will not be the tick boxing of "compliance" issues that you might have experienced previously.

The thrust is very much on the pupils' experience and welfare - hence the emphasis on Every Child Matters. Inspectors will be more likely to ask about school dinners than worklife balance.

But inspectors will want to pursue staffing issues where they clearly contribute to the school's main strengths or weaknesses.

A school might, for example have overcome staff shortages by becoming a training provider, or have improved specialist teaching of the curriculum through PPA time. Conversely, a disregard of staff welfare and resource needs may lead to a high staff turnover which damages the quality of education.

It may be that Ofsted arranges some specially themed inspections to pursue this issue, just as it has set up subject-themed inspections separate from, and supplementary to, the standard ones.

Q Please could you tell me where I can find excellent examples of completed self-evaluation forms (SEFs)?

We are updating ours and need advice.

A There really isn't a model to follow because what is right for one school will not necessarily be right for another. However, you can download advice from the publications section of the Ofsted website (www.ofsted.gov.ukpublications), called Improving Performance Through School Self Evaluation and Planning. The best SEFs evaluate, the weak ones describe. Ofsted guidance is that if a SEF is more than 20 pages long, it is probably too descriptive

Selwyn Ward draws on years of inspection experience. The views expressed here are his own. To ask him a question contact him at www.askaninspector@tes.co.uk

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