Whenever an inspection from Ofsted is happening stress runs through school effecting the leadership team, teachers, students and parents.
The call has come. It is the call that no head teacher enjoys receiving. Panic starts to set in. Ofsted are coming. This means it is time to make sure that the school is looking ship shape and shiny, that all your books are up to date and you are ready to put on the perfect performance. As the message circulates the school to all the other members of staff, fear kicks in. Fear that it will be their classroom that will be inspected or fear that at the end of the week you could be without a job.
Ofsted, the office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills, is the body that regulates state school performances by carrying out inspections generally every four to six years. Once they have completed their inspection they rate the establishment either outstanding, good or requires improvement.
However this system has come under a lot of scrutiny with the National Union of teachers calling for Ofsted to be shut down.
Vicky Reed, a nursery school teacher at Farnham Common Nursery School, said that: “A one day inspection doesn’t give a fair reflection of a school even in a small school like ours; there is so much to see and find out about what we do.”
She continued, “On a one day inspection they (Ofsted) come with two to three areas to focus on as time is short and they can miss seeing much of the teaching and learning going on that is good.”
Vicky suggested that Ofsted can only be getting a snapshot of what the school is about and they will always miss very important aspects of a school such as extra-curricular activities.
Jane Kirchgaesser, a teaching assistant at Robertswood School agreed with Vicky saying that one inspector came for one day.
She added: “They spent five minutes in my class but didn’t go into any early year classes or nursery.”
Despite this the inspector still came to the conclusion that they were a ‘good’ school and she did not need to return with a team of inspectors Jane informed.
everyone needs reviewing and monitoring so I’m not sure what it could be replaced with.
Jane believed that the three tier ranking system used Ofsted is not fair. Vicky agreed saying, “the criteria for outstanding has changed and so outstanding is harder to achieve there needs to be something between outstanding and good.”
“When I first started teaching it used to be that you had quite a few weeks’ notice about an inspection. It did mean that schools didn’t always have to have everything up to date all the time as they had time to prepare – it could feel a bit false as everyone raced around trying to back date things or do things just because OFSTED were coming,” explains Vicky.
She added: “I think now although short notice is stressful it does mean generally you have to keep on top of everything as best you can so that things are up to date.”
Even with the slight change in the system, which means Ofsted can give just two days’ notice, schools still have a rough idea of when Ofsted will be visiting. Vicky suggested: “Schools have an idea of where they are in the cycle of inspections so in that way you can prepare by thinking we’re due an inspection in the next six months or year.”
Contradictory to that, Vicky said: “everyone needs reviewing and monitoring so I’m not sure what it could be replaced with.”
Despite all not being teacher, they all said that being in a classroom environment whilst undergoing an inspection from Ofsted that there were a lot more stressed. Even if Ofsted change there three tier ranking system it is hard to see how they will remove the stigma behind being inspected. In addition it seems pretty difficult how they can more accurate representation of the school and remove the extra stress for teachers.