/Tag: Ofsted

How do we know pupils are making progress? Part 1: The madness of flight paths

2019-04-07T20:14:38+01:00March 23rd, 2019|assessment, curriculum|

Schools are desperate to find ways to predict students' progress from year to year and between key stages. Seemingly, the most common approach to solving this problem is to produce some sort of 'flight path'. The internet is full of such misguided attempts to do the impossible. Predicting a students' progress is a mug's game. It can't be done. At the level of nationally representative population sample we can estimate the likelihood of someone who is measured at performing at one level attaining another level, but this is meaningless at the level of individuals. It should therefore be obvious that using [...]

What’s wrong with Ofsted’s definition of learning?

2019-05-22T20:13:44+01:00February 4th, 2019|Featured|

As everyone already knows, Ofsted have published a draft of the new Inspection Framework which is currently undergoing a process of consultation. Amazingly, one of the most contentious aspects of the document is the definition given to learning: Learning can be defined as an alteration in long-term memory. If nothing has altered in long-term memory, nothing has been learned. However, transfer to long-term memory depends on the rich processes described above.[1] In order to develop understanding, pupils connect new knowledge with existing knowledge. Pupils also need to develop fluency and unconsciously apply their knowledge as skills. This must not be reduced [...]

Should Ofsted observe lessons?

2019-01-24T10:51:21+01:00May 31st, 2018|Featured|

As you may have seen, Ofsted have published a report which lays the ground work on how they might start observing lessons once more: Six models of lesson observation: an international perspective. Most people will probably accept that if Ofsted are going to inspect schools then should almost certainly observe lessons as part of the inspection process. And, as someone who spends a fair bit of time visiting schools around the country, it’s clear that you can learn a lot about a school from seeing how lessons unfold. But when I observe lessons, I do so informally. I’m not attempting to make [...]

Put down your crystal balls

2017-07-04T09:32:36+01:00July 3rd, 2017|assessment, leadership|

Many of the schools I visit and work with feel under enormous pressure to predict what their students are likely to achieve in their next set of GCSEs. In the past, this approach sort of made sense. Of course there was always a margin for error, but most experienced teachers just knew what a C grade looked like in their subject. Also, when at least half of students' results were based on 'banked' modular results, the pressure to predict became ever more enticing. Sadly, the certainties we may have relied on have gone. Not only have Ofqual have worked hard to [...]

How can school inspection get what it wants?

2017-02-11T07:33:17+01:00February 10th, 2017|leadership|

I read a great piece by Dr Becky Allen in Schools Week this morning on inherent unreliability of school inspections. In it she makes the point that human beings are incapable of making reliable, high stakes judgements due to our adaptive reliance on heuristics and our inability to adequately introspect about our biases  and preferences. But despite the dangers, she says, "This is not to say that school inspection should not have a role in our system. It is possible that the threat of inspection, day-in-day-out, leads to better practice in schools that outweighs the obvious dysfunctional behaviours it creates." I [...]

Bottom sets and the scourge of low-level disruption

2016-11-14T21:10:57+01:00November 14th, 2016|behaviour|

In many English schools, low-level disruption is the norm. Children talking when expected to be silent, fiddling with equipment and each other, calling out, and generally not being 'on task' are all routinely accepted as just something with which teachers have to contend. In 2014, Ofsted published this report on low-level disruption in schools. It it, "around two-fifths of the 723 teachers in the survey who believed that disruptive ‘talking and chatting’ was a key problem said it occurred in almost every lesson." The entire concept of 'behaviour management' is predicated on the idea that teachers must manage students' inevitable disruptive [...]

Why Ofsted inspectors shouldn’t give advice

2016-10-01T21:52:21+01:00October 1st, 2016|Featured|

Unfortunately I was unable to attend the recent Learning First conference in Wolverhampton, but I did manage to follow some of the tweets. This one in particular caught my attention: Marilyn Mottram HMI talking about what Ofsted are looking for #LearningFirst pic.twitter.com/MJDrm3cUkf — school data updates (@jpembroke) October 1, 2016 As you can see by reading the thread below the tweet, it's possible that Marylin Mottram didn't actually say this was what Ofsted were looking for, but that's certainly what was inferred by some members of the audience. In response, I tweeted the following: As long as Ofsted 'look for' instead [...]

Why I'm optimistic about the new Chief Inspector

2016-06-14T14:17:05+01:00June 14th, 2016|Featured|

Guardian journalist and ex-teacher, Michelle Hanson thinks education in the UK is "going down the pan". In this article she tells us the memory of working as a teacher still makes her "feel a bit queasy" whenever she so much as walks past a school. I can only imagine what kind of horrors she might have endured and I have nothing but sympathy for the many thousands of teachers who, like Michelle, have chosen to get out of the classroom and do something less injurious to their mental health. She's absolutely right to point out that the "preparation, planning, note-taking, sudden irrational initiatives, testing [...]

Why I ♥ blogging (and believe there is hope for Ofsted)

2015-12-03T15:19:58+01:00December 3rd, 2015|blogging|

Earlier today I posted an outraged spume of invective directed at a recently publish Ofsted inspection report. Since then Sean Harford, Ofsted's National Director for Education, has been in touch to say that the report has been taken down and arses are being kicked. To be clear, I don't want or expect Ofsted to change its judgement about the school in question - I am in no way placed to make any kind of judgement or even comment on what the school in question might be like - but I do want and expect the report to be changed so that [...]

Marking: What (some) Ofsted Inspectors (still) want

2015-12-05T12:59:28+01:00December 3rd, 2015|workload|

It is up to schools themselves to determine their practices and for leadership teams to justify these on their own merits rather than by reference to the inspection handbook. UPDATE: There is a happy(ish) ending to this sad story. As you will no doubt be aware, Ofsted has gone to great lengths to clarify its position on marking. In October 2014 it very helpfully published this clarification document which, from September 2015 has been incorporated into the Inspection Handbook. In it, several pervasive myths relating specifically to marking are addressed: Ofsted recognises that marking and feedback to pupils, both written and oral, [...]

Why we *really* mistrust Ofsted

2015-09-16T08:33:10+01:00September 15th, 2015|Featured|

In the Schools Week profile on Ofsted's head honcho, Sir Michael Wilshaw apparently puts the teaching professions' lack of confidence in Ofsted down to "his relentless drive for challenge". He is reported as saying, Me coming out and being quite critical sometimes of leaders not doing what they should be doing, giving my view about how schools should be run, immediately puts people’s backs up. … and what has become clear to me is, once one person says ‘Ofsted’s broke’ … other people jump on that bandwagon... I know we’ve got this reputation of being this tough organisation that costs people their [...]

Should schools have to prepare for inspection?

2015-06-16T23:55:35+01:00June 16th, 2015|Featured|

Like everyone else who has witnessed Ofsted's attempts to clarify misconceptions and improve the inspection process over the last few years, I'm certain that those who led the organisation are genuinely well-intentioned and are actively seeking to do the best they can. The removal of individual lesson gradings was a triumph for common senses, and the attempts to learn from and engage with teachers to improve the system is entirely laudable. Without going into any specifics around Michael Wilshaw's latest round of announcements of what Ofsted will and won't be looking for, I feel genuinely confused about one point. Consultant and [...]