Chris Russell, Regional Director, South East, on inspection

Chris Russell, Regional Director, South East, on inspection


Thank you for tuning in to watch this video.
I hope you find it helpful. It’s targeted mainly at classroom teachers, but others might
find it helpful too. My main aim here is to say a little bit about inspection, but also do
as much as I can to help set people at ease. I’m not stupid, I know that I’ll never completely
do that, but I just really want to try and do what I can to try and reduce the stress
around inspection. And that is a high priority for us. With changes that we made a couple
of years ago, we brought all of our inspectors to work directly with us, so that all of the
inspectors in the south east work directly to me and to the regional team. And one of
the strongest expectations that we have for them is that a key part of inspection will
be to form good relationships with staff in the school and to treat people with respect
and humanity. So here’s my top tip about how to do well in your Ofsted inspection. I have
to say it’s not very earth shattering. Basically it’s not to worry about Ofsted, it’s to think
just about the pupils in your care. Because although it sounds a bit of a cliché to say
it, we all want the same thing. We all want young people to enjoy school, to do well to make
good progress, to move on and have a rewarding life. We all want that. And at its heart,
inspection really is about getting at how well does the school makes that happen, both before
the inspection and during the inspection, do the things that are right for your pupils.
So, if you’re observed during inspection don’t try and do something different. The reality
is, in my experience, that if you try and do that actually things don’t tend to go that
well anyway. So do what you would normally do with your pupils. And what the inspector
wants to see is actually to see that, to see what you’re doing with the pupils, if there’s
an opportunity perhaps to look inside the books, to talk to pupils. And what inspectors
are trying to do is make an assessment about what teaching, learning and assessment are
typically like. During the lesson if you get an opportunity feel free to talk to an inspector
if you think it would be helpful and you have the opportunity to do that, you have the time
to do that without taking too much away from the lesson to talk to the inspector about
how what you’re doing fits in with what you’ve previously done etc. And it sometimes
happens, if things don’t go entirely to plan, because we know that can happen during lessons
don’t worry about it, just make sure that the inspector is aware of that. We’re very
clear that when inspectors come into the school they shouldn’t come in with preferred ways
of doing things because one of the things that we really see as inspectors is that schools
can be successful in very different ways. So what inspectors will do is they will come in, they’ll
look at what the school is doing and look at the impact of that on the children and
young people. And that means collecting evidence from wherever it’s available. Of course from
visiting lessons and looking at teaching and learning underway. But also the other opportunities,
talking to pupils, looking at work, having conversations with parents and any other sources
of evidence that will inform the inspector’s judgements. And what the inspection team then
do is weigh up all of that evidence, they compare it to the inspection criteria in our
school inspection handbook, all of that is freely available it’s not secretive, it’s
all available on our website, and they put that together and they then form their judgements.
That brings me to myths about inspections, something that we’re working really hard to
drive out of the system. Because as I said ultimately what we want is for schools and
teachers to be doing the right things for their children and young people. So, a number
of things that hopefully I can help to clear up. The first is about lesson planning,
we don’t have any particular model of lesson planning, we don’t expect to see lesson plans
when we come into schools. That’s a matter for the school and a matter for the teachers
teaching the lessons. The second thing is about grading. When we come into lessons now
we don’t make graded judgements, we don’t say that was a good lesson, or that the teaching
there was good. We don’t make those kind of judgements. We use evidence from lessons,
we collate that together to look at what teaching and learning are like across the school, but
we’re not making judgements about that specific lessons. And we’re not making judgements about
individual teachers. We know that what we’re seeing when we come into lessons is a very
small snapshot of the work that that teacher has done with their pupils. The third thing
is around work in books and marking and I think this is a particular one for us. Inspectors
typically would look at books and they’ll look at the work in books, because that
can tell you quite a lot about the progress that the pupils have been making. But we don’t
have fixed ideas about how much work we’d expect to see in books and that kind of thing
because we know it will differ depending on the practice of the school and the teacher
etc. We also don’t have fixed ideas about marking. And the last thing that we want to
do is contribute to any additional burdens around the amount of marking that teachers
do, because we know that teachers can spend a considerable amount of time on marking.
All we’d expect is that the school has got a clear policy which is reasonable and of
course doesn’t put too much demand on teachers and that they use that policy and
work with that policy with their pupils. We also know that verbal feedback can be extremely
helpful and that many schools, many teachers use a considerable amount of feedback like
that. And what we wouldn’t want is to create a burden where people feel that they have
to record that. Because ultimately what we would want from marking and feedback is that
pupils have a good idea about how well they’re doing and what they need to do to improve,
etc. And that’s very easily demonstrated by inspector’s discussions with pupils. And
the fourth one is a kind of general one really and it’s about something that I said earlier
about the way in which inspectors work and collect evidence. What we don’t want is for
people to be doing things just for us and for us to be creating work for people to be producing
things for inspectors. When you inspect a school it’s very easy to use what the school
normally uses for itself to collect evidence and to see how well the school is doing. So
what we’d encourage is for schools and for teachers to develop things that are right for their
children and their young people and inspectors can very easily use those sources of evidence
when they come into the school. So I hope I’ve been able to dispel some of those
myths that we are working very hard to remove from the system. And finally thank you very
much for taking the time to watch this video, I hope that it’s been helpful and I hope been
reassuring that what we as inspectors want is to come in and see the school as it normally
operates. So please just carry on doing the right things for the children in your class.
If you’re watching it because you are about to be inspected then can I wish you all the
best for a very constructive inspection experience which is helpful to you and to your school. And
if you have any further queries please do get in touch and we’ll do anything that we
can do to help. Thanks.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *