Preparing for Ofsted 2013

Last year I gave a presentation at the education show entitled ‘Preparing for Ofsted.’ I sifted through lots of Ofsted reports, founds patterns of ‘behaviours’ and looked for things inspectors seemed to be consistently asking for. I then created a slide show based on my findings.

In February 2013, Ofsted visited my school. As a result I’ve recently updated the slide show and below is the new updated version. I hope it will help you when your visit is due.

<div style=”margin-bottom:5px”> <strong> <a href=”http://www.slideshare.net/paceanderson/preparing-for-ofsted-2013-v2&#8243; title=”Preparing for ofsted! 2013 v2″ target=”_blank”>Preparing for ofsted! 2013 v2</a> </strong> from <strong><a href=”http://www.slideshare.net/paceanderson&#8221; target=”_blank”>paceanderson</a></strong> </div>

The Though_Weavers

Advertisements

The Ofsted Effect

I visit many schools and talk to hundreds of professionals all of the time. Never far from the conversation is Ofsted. Ofsted worry schools to the point that the whole ethos is to please Ofsted. This is wrong because a school’s ethos should be built around its pupils.

I was listening to Mick Waters just the other week and he talked about ‘Game Theory;’ the idea that organisations adjust their practices because of the coercion of others. He gave the example of the railways. Since privatisation, the government has set train operating companies punctuality targets, in response to this the timetables have been adjusted to allow for more ‘slippage;’ the outcome is simple, journey times are longer but targets are met. A classic case of:

“Hitting the target but missing the point”

Schools are in danger of doing precisely this! The Ofsted game has led to some dubious practices; below are just a few that come to mind:

The learning objective must be shared.

We’re not saying it should never be shared, but for every lesson? Surely great learning is great learning and pupils will know this! We shouldn’t forget that learning is never ‘objective!’ It’s a personal process, it belongs to individuals and groups; it is therefore subjective!

The mini-plenary.

Of course great learners need time to reflect, to think about how it might be used; a chance to ponder. However, I heard a story the other day of a class given just 1m 40s before the first mini-plenary was delivered. Pupils need time to question, discuss and just to get on with learning; they don’t need the teacher stopping them every five minutes to check progress.

The end of curiosity.

I’ve seen too many lessons in the past 5 years where the learning outcome is measured in levels. The message is clear; “no need to be curious or inquisitive, I’ve given you the outcome using an arbitrary numerical level and that’s where we’re all heading.” What happened to wonder? Wondering what the outcome might be, the chance to play, to experiment and take risks. I asked a learner in July what he needed to do to get better at maths and he replied “Get a level 5.” Earlier this year I asked a girl what she was learning in English and she replied “AF5” – she could tell I was bemused. I then asked her why and she replied “to get a level 4.” Needless to say writing for pleasure is not one of her pastimes!

Tick Box Teaching

The arrival of the ‘lesson observation grids’ has done great damage to teaching. Instead of teachers, the danger is we become technicians; just ticking the boxes as we go along and ticking as many boxes as possible when an observer is in. Of course there should be guidance, hints and tips, strategies shared and practice observed but when you’ve seen practitioners shower praise like confetti, include a dozen mini plenaries and share enough differentiated learning outcomes for the entire population you know it’s ‘Tick box Teaching.’

Teaching to the tests.

Ofsted predominantly measure a school by their ‘standards.’ Some argue this is not the case, but I’ve yet to come across a school with 100% level 4s at KS2 who’ve been put into special measures. So along comes the ‘SPaG’ test and hey presto, grammar lessons are back on the menu, the ‘how many pieces of punctuation can you fit in a sentence’ game is played and spelling tests, lots of spelling tests! Some argue that children should have this type of experience, but if they felt so strongly why weren’t they doing it last year?

If we continue down this ‘Game,’ education will lose its heart, writing will be a technical experience marked with levels, learning will become boxes to tick and teachers will become robots who simply deliver the packages of contents…And pupils…I fear for them…

So please, follow your philosophy, don’t be compliant and ensure the children in your class/school enjoy an education fit for their futures.

The Thought Weavers

Here Comes the Summer! Achieving a good work/life balance!

HERE COMES THE SUMMER! – THE SECRETS OF WORK/LIFE BALANCE.

Well time is almost upon us. The time when I drive home from work with the car windows rolled down and the effervescent tones of Feargal Sharkey blasting out a classic from July 1979 “Here Comes the Summer!” I know most people opt for Alice Cooper and ‘School’s Out!’ but due to the fact I left School in ’79’ I’m an Undertones man all the way!

(Check out the YouTube clip at the bottom of the page)

Yes, my friends it’s the School Holidays! The Big Holidays! The Six Weeks Holiday! The holidays that all your non-teaching friends really hate! The one holiday they all despise you having! (I know that our friends in Australia and NZ feel this feeling later in the year.)

Little do your friends know, or even care, that by the time the holiday arrives you are physically, mentally and spiritually on your knees; especially for the first two weeks anyway. You and I know the pattern:
Two weeks to recover and become human again.
Two weeks going on holiday (if you’re lucky and can afford it)
Two weeks to prepare physically and mentally for the next term!
Yeah we really have a great time during our SIX weeks off – don’t we?

The purpose of this week’s blog is not really to really inspire or encourage but mainly to share how the Thought Weavers spend their ‘Big Holidays. Hopefully some of you will share your holiday experiences with us. Also we could explore some of the ways that we seek and find that elusive Holy Grail AKA ‘Work life Balance.’

The first thing to try and remember is that we are on holiday and school MUST come second place. As my wife once said “David it’s great being everything to everybody else’s children but remember you have two of your own!” Partners know instinctively how to make you feel special – don’t they?

So here goes with our ‘Thought Weaver Tips’ for the holiday season.

PLANNING YOUR BREAK
Now some of you may scoff at planning your time off but hear me out! Most of us are slaves to the clock/time table for 10 months of the year. For example I know exactly what I’ll be doing on the third Tuesday in June 2012 at precisely 1.30pm; my class and I will be having PE, Friday afternoon its Guitars, Monday morning Maths and the list goes on!

As teachers/lead learners we have come to accept that this is our lives (sadly) and therefore during the holiday period many of us like to go off-piste so to speak! However, the new found freedom that we all experience can cause some of us to become lethargic; we can waste precious hours on basically doing nothing. So often I hear my colleagues say, “I’ve been off for three weeks and I haven’t done a thing!” This may cause us to become a little resentful. Our suggestion is to have a basic outline of things that you wish to achieve whilst your off work, this can be as simple as fetching the newspaper, go shopping, visit the pub (visit lots of pubs) at least we’re doing something positive!

FAMILY & FRIENDS
Holiday time is a great time to catch up with family and friends that we haven’t seen for a term or two. We could meet up and have a coffee, a beer (lots of beers), BBQ etc.

Last year Lee, my son Leo, and I caught the train to Manchesterand visited the Lowry Centre. (The home of the Salfordbased painter L.S. Lowry) http://www.thelowry.com/ls-lowry/

Leo loved everything about the trip: the train journey, the big city, the gallery and twelve months later he still talks about it.

Therefore log on to obtain information about your local museums, galleries and places of interest. There will be loads of FREE activities planned for the summer; once again you’ll be super dad/mum and earn Brownie points by the barrow-full.

READING
You MUST have a holiday reading list (It’s the LAW). Whether you opt for sentimental tosh (sadly I love these), or books on special interests; why not try the latest offerings on educational research (Sadly once again a favourite of Lee and I). You may want to read the newspaper or ‘Hello’ magazine it’s up to you. But try and read as it keeps the old cogs of the brain going!

WRITING
Over the years there have been a wealth of people who tell me they have ‘a book’ lurking inside them – a book they long to write. The holidays are a perfect time to start. I have friends who have spoken about writing a book for nearly twenty years but still they struggle to put pen to paper – don’t talk about it – do it! Here’s a question for you: When do you become old?

“A man is not old until his regrets replace his dreams” John Barrymore

So don’t dilly/dally and your let your dreams become regrets when you are older – get a pack of cheap pencils, a note book, a good coffee shop and the world’s your oyster.

RE-ENACTMENTS: You must have seen the many re-enactment societies that operate the length and breadth of the country? Check out their website: National Association of Re-enactment Societies: http://www.nares.org.uk/

 

Lee and I are involved within our very own re-enactment society: it involves Rigger boots; trackie bottoms and an old football/rugby shirt and hey presto – we’re builders! Once we break up from school; we have a whole agenda of slab laying; fence erecting, shelf building – our project this August is decking out Lee’s back garden – the point we’re trying to make is that all this work is nothing to do with school/learning; basically it’s a chance to charge up the mental batteries and visit the most exquisite ‘bacon buttie’ suppliers in the land. Why not start your own re-enactment society? You could become a chef; landscaper; train spotter (Lee’s one – but it’s our secret); football coach; tour guide; once again anything that chills you out and recharges the batteries.

Well that’s it for another term! The Thought Weavers will be taking a month’s blogging holiday but we will be back at the end of August with our preparations for the new term.

Thanks for all the tweets; blog hits; comments and words of encouragement over the past few months; we really, really appreciate it.

Best wishes and have a great (relaxing) holiday.

Lee and David (The Thought Weavers)

so take it away Fergal…

‘Sorry this is where you have to pretend there’s a seamless link to the video below – you’ll have to manually click the link – our apologies! – So take it away Fergal…’

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kUg7OO1gZk0&feature=youtube_gdata_player