19th October 2007 at 01:00
Q: How about this idea? Two grades for a lesson, one for the teacher and one for the pupils. The teacher would be marked on their planning, preparation, what they were trying to do, marking and use of resources, while the pupils would be marked on their behaviour, learning and how they worked. What do you think?

A: I can see where this is coming from, but I think that it addresses a perceived problem that doesn't really exist. I know this runs contrary to popular belief, but, as I've explained before, inspectors don't judge teachers, they judge the effectiveness of teaching, and that means the learning that is going on. If lessons are well planned and teachers demonstrate good subject knowledge, inspectors will say so.

If pupils are misbehaving or are simply so sullenly uncooperative that they do not learn anything, then inspectors will rightly determine that the lesson is ineffective. That does not mean the inspector is blaming the teacher for the pupils' behaviour, but it does mean that, despite what may have involved a number of very positive features of teaching, the pupils failed to learn.

Inspectors do, by the way, grade the pupils' response in lessons because that is an element of personal development, which is one of the grade boxes on the inspectors' evidence form (EF). The EF is not a state secret, it can be downloaded from Ofsted's website. You can see it includes a box for each of the main headings in the inspection report. Inspectors won't necessarily complete every box on every EF but they are expected to put in a grade wherever they have sufficient evidence on that particular aspect of the school.

Q: What would you say to an infant school that got 50 per cent of its 75 children to level 3 in their Sats? This doesn't remotely follow a normal distribution and statisticians would have a field day.

A: I would say that these look like high standards. This may be because the children are very able when they start school or it may be the result of good or outstanding progress. I would only be questioning these standards if I had reason to think them suspect: for example, because standards of work seen in lessons seemed notably lower or because concerns had otherwise been flagged, perhaps by parents or through local authority monitoring.

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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