A year ago, I was in the worst job of my career. There was no support from the senior leadership team, and teachers were stressed, unmotivated and not loyal to the school. It was awful.
We had been in special measures for a year so an inspection was due. The pressure we were put under to produce lesson plans of an "outstanding" nature was immense; our plans were scrutinised and ripped apart, and we were continually told that we would lose our jobs if we did not perform on the day. Staff constantly questioned their worth and whether they would pass the "test" that our senior management team led us to believe we were all taking.
The monotonous box-ticking and hoop-jumping were exhausting. There was too much to think about, producing reams and reams of data to show what, exactly? No one knew. We had to complete tests and assessments we had never done before, without any apparent purpose. All wall displays had to be re-done with a "wow" factor - and we weren't allowed to leave the premises until management had given our boards the all-clear. It was relentless.
Teachers were pushed to the limit with menial tasks, distracting them from good-quality teaching. Stress was contagious, with everyone constantly in a bad mood and complaining about overwork. It was impossible to breathe fresh, non-inspection-contaminated air.
Then they came, and it was a blur. And then they left. Everyone breathed a sigh of relief but we didn't expect anything to change.
What happened next was somewhat unexpected: the ensuing negative judgement cost the headteacher and members of the senior leadership team their jobs. We then gained a "super-head" to get the school back into shape.
Things have since improved dramatically, not least the morale of staff, who feel they have purpose and worth. And it is now recognised how good many of them actually are.
We are not dictated to. We are given time to manage any changes made and the school has a much clearer vision. Interactive whiteboards have arrived, making a huge impact on student motivation and engagement.
The school is now calmer and people seem happier. The new management team appreciates its staff a lot more, making teaching and the lessons more enjoyable. Who said Ofsted was a bad thing?
The writer is a teacher in the North East of England
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