21st December 2007 at 00:00
Q: I'm an NQT in a school that is waiting for the call from Ofsted. Will I be observed and if so, what will they be looking at?

A: The odds of being observed depends on the size of the school, but the thrust of inspection now is much more on checking out the school self-evaluation. To that extent, the spotlight has shifted from the teachers to the headteacher and Senior Management Team (SMT).

If I'm in a school and there are weaknesses in the teaching of an NQT, my focus is going to be in knowing what the headteacher and other school leaders have done to monitor and provide guidance and support.

The inspector will probably look at children's books and the lesson plan for the lesson seen, but those arrangements will be for all teachers and will be agreed with the headteacher at or just before the start of the inspection.

Q: I have recently started teaching in a private primary school. I have just been given the responsibility as the key stage 1 and geography co-ordinator. We are due to be inspected and I have an interview with the lead inspector. What sort of questions will I be asked?

A: The inspection in question is not run by Ofsted, but by the Independent Schools Inspectorate, which is approved by the Department for Children, Schools and Families to run inspections in the independent schools that belong to the Independent Schools Council.

On those visits, the reporting inspector normally speaks to members of the SMT, just to ask them about their role in the management structure of the school.

You have no need to worry, but you will want to make sure they know that you are new to your leadership role. You can expect to be asked about your subject management (do you intend to monitor colleagues in geography, do you look at pupils' books, do you undertake any lesson observations of others) but because you are new, inspectors will realise that you've hardly had chance to get your feet under the table.

Normally you would be asked about your role as key stage 1 co-ordinator, how you check planning, your contribution to the writing of the school development plan, how you support colleagues, whether the governors take an interest, your contribution to writing policies and how you monitor them.

Just be honest about what you have done so far and think and be prepared to talk about what you would like to do in the future.

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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