9th November 2007 at 00:00
Q: The standard of teaching at our school is no better or worse than anywhere else - we just have a more difficult job with the children we teach, who arrive unfed, unruly, stressed and high on their parents' drugs.

We have been informed that, regardless of what Ofsted sees in the classroom, "the quality of teaching cannot be above satisfactory overall if standards are inadequate". So, even if Ofsted rated every lesson outstanding, because of our poor Sats scores and league table placing, the teaching in the school would be deemed unsatisfactory.

A: If pupils are of broadly average ability when they start school, you would expect them to be achieving well if teaching is consistently good. However, it is possible for teaching to be good or outstanding even though standards are low. That might be the case, for example, in a lesson with a bottom set, or across the whole school if its intake was very low. The opposite is also true: standards can be high but teaching may be inadequate. That might be the case in a coasting top set. I have inspected schools where the teaching was judged good overall even though standards were low, and I inspected a school last year where the standards were well above average but where the teaching was found to be satisfactory. These are all perfectly plausible combinations because the critical judgment is more about achievement rather than standards. The bottom line is - what is the progress pupils are making, both in lessons and over time? If pupils are coming from a low base, then they could be making good progress but their standards might still be significantly below average. It sounds from your account as if your school may have other problems, but I hope I have at least reassured you that there is certainly no automatic link between inspectors' judgments of standards and teaching. Q My lesson was observed in our inspection but I wasn't given any feedback. Is there any way I can contact them and request to see the paperwork on my lesson? A Inspectors should offer feedback on lessons seen. They will usually agree the feedback arrangements with the headteacher in advance of the inspection, but if you want feedback, always make a point of asking while inspectors are still in school. Once they leave, it's too late. Inspection evidence is routinely destroyed three months after the inspection. It would only be held longer than that if there was an outstanding complaint

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

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