In theory, NQTs have a lot to worry about when Ofsted arrives. They’re fledgling teachers yet to find their pedagogical feet and they are unaccustomed to the beady eye of inspection. However, Sarah Wright, senior lecturer in primary education at Edge Hill University, says that in fact the opposite is true: NQTs are perfectly placed for Ofsted success.
Writing in the 5 December issue of TES, she explains: “NQTs have recently finished their training, so they are used to being observed. Compared with other staff members, they are relatively comfortable with having people in the classroom. This is an advantage, so they should use it, and not let themselves be sidetracked by colleagues who feel differently.”
That’s not to say that being an NQT under the microscope of Ofsted is easy. There are challenges, things to remember and ways to handle the pressure, but if an NQT can master these elements then, as Wright says, they can admit to a “twinge of excitement” in anticipation of the inspectors' arrival.
So how exactly should NQTs tackle Ofsted? Below is a summary of Wright’s advice.
Before the inspection
Breathe. The next two days will be a roller coaster. First, review your lesson plans, but don’t start reinventing the wheel by trying to do something completely different. You can tweak, add and enhance, of course, but the preparations you have already made have brought you to this place for a reason. Your students are on a learning journey, so stick to the path you have chosen, even if you do tidy it up a bit along the way.
Remember that sleep deprivation is frequently used as a form of torture. Don’t do it to yourself by staying up late to fiddle around with unnecessary things. You need to be at your best – and that means being energised and ready for action after a decent night’s sleep.
During the inspection
Don’t be afraid to go off-piste. If you are being observed and something is not going as planned, do exactly what you would do if the inspectors weren’t there – change it. Show them that you are adaptable.
And don’t do all the work yourself. You shouldn’t be stood at the front of the classroom with flailing arms and an over-enthusiastic tone: make the children put in the effort, too.
After the inspection
Thank your pupils. Thank your colleagues and everyone else who has supported you. If you have been observed, you will have the opportunity to meet with the inspector and get some feedback. Even if you feel that things didn’t work out as you hoped, this discussion will be invaluable for your professional development.
Finally, catch up on some sleep (a glass of pre-bedtime wine is perfectly acceptable).
Read the full article in the 5 December edition of TES on your tablet or phone or by downloading the TES Reader app for Android or iOS. Or pick it up at all good newsagents