Sir Michael Wilshaw

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 [...]

My impatience with some Ofsted inspectors

2014-07-24T16:34:31+01:00July 24th, 2014|Featured|

We hope we are transparent and honest. I am very keen that the people we inspect have confidence in the quality of our inspections and the quality of our inspectors. I believe the quality of inspection and the quality of our inspectors has gone up over the last few years. Sir Michael Wilshaw I'm genuinely of the belief that Ofsted as an organisation is trying hard to put right some of the worst excesses it has been responsible for in its 21 year history. But certain attitudes make the task so much harder. Consider this from the boss: We have done more [...]

What inspirational teaching looks like according to Ofsted

2014-02-18T17:27:12+00:00February 18th, 2014|Featured|

So, as we know, Sir Michael Wilshaw is determined to make clear that Ofsted has no preferred teaching style. Right? Wrong. Just in case you were breaking open the Spumante to celebrate a return to common sense and autonomy, Ofsted have released a brand new example of best practice in English just so as we're all clear on exactly the type of thing inspectors are looking for. I really don't want to denigrate anything the school in question has done in order to be awarded their outstanding badge; their results speak for themselves: In 2013, 83% of the cohort gained a GCSE [...]

Has lesson observation become the new Brain Gym?

2013-11-17T11:30:15+00:00November 16th, 2013|training|

I've thought a lot about lesson observation over the past couple of years and have come to the conclusion that it is broken. What is most worrying is that it is almost universally accepted as the best way to bother hold teachers accountable and to drive improvements in the quality of teaching and learning in a school. My contention is that these beliefs are, at least in the way the observations are currently enacted, wrong. Lesson observation distorts teaching, makes teachers focus on performance instead of learning and creates a system which is more interested in short term fluff than real [...]

The shocking mediation of Ofsted criteria by 'rogue' inspectors

2013-11-10T17:06:41+00:00November 10th, 2013|training|

There's a lot said and written about what Ofsted do and don't want to see in lessons, and it turns out a lot of it is nonsense. Fortunately though we have Michael Wilshaw, the chief inspector, saying all kinds of sensible things: Ofsted should be wary of trying to prescribe a particular style of teaching, whether it be a three part lesson; an insistence that there should be a balance between teacher led activities and independent learning, or that the lesson should start with aims and objectives with a plenary at the end. We should be wary of too much prescription. [...]

Anything goes: Is there a right way to teach?

2013-10-20T10:43:56+01:00October 20th, 2013|learning|

There's nothing good or bad but thinking makes it so. Shakespeare, Hamlet I read Joe Kirby's recent post on cognitive bias with interest because I've been pursuing a very similar line of enquiry. What if we're fooling ourselves? The wonderfully entertaining You Are Not So Smart by David Mcraney deals with many different varieties of self-delusion and makes excellent reading. But even armed with all this information, self-delusion is very hard to spot. One thing that's become clear to me is that I should be suspicious of my intuition. That said, I do try to open to criticism and new information [...]

Where lesson observations go wrong

2015-12-16T11:49:39+00:00July 12th, 2013|Featured, training|

UPDATE: Since writing this post in July 2013 a lot has happened. Ofsted has stopped grading individual lessons and many schools have recognised the futility and harm caused by lesson grading. Here is my most recent post on the subject. Can we define an outstanding lesson? No. I get asked this regularly, and I've really tried. But I don't think it's possible. I can describe a specific example of a lesson which was judged as outstanding, but that really isn't helpful for three reasons. 1) Stand alone lessons don't provide evidence of much except the performance of the teacher and the students [...]

Why the knowledge/skills debate is worth having

2015-01-26T08:41:20+00:00July 7th, 2013|blogging, myths, SOLO|

'I note the obvious differences between each sort and type, but we are more alike, my friends, than we are unalike'. Maya Angelou I've come an awful long way since September 2011 when Cristina Milos took the time to point out that my view on the teaching of knowledge and skills were seriously skewed. I'm flabbergasted that, as an experienced teacher, I could have been so ignorant. I said at the end of that post that "I guess my conclusion isn’t that skills are more important than knowledge: rather that both are required for mastery of a subject." But I didn't really believe it. If [...]

Icebergs, taking risks & being outstanding

2024-01-19T10:53:07+00:00February 11th, 2013|Featured, learning, planning, training|

How do we recognise a great teacher, a great lesson or great teaching and learning? How do we know what we're seeing is outstanding? The sad truth is that often observers don't (or can't) see the wood for the trees. They see your planning, they see your interactions with a group of students and, hopefully, they see the evidence of impact in your students' books. But most of what goes into making your lessons finely crafted things of beauty are invisible. Observers only ever get to see the tip of the iceberg. If a writer of prose knows enough of [...]

Outstanding teaching & learning: missed opportunities and marginal gains

2012-10-14T11:52:32+01:00October 14th, 2012|learning, myths, training|

I work at an 'outstanding' school where the teaching and learning is 'good'. As such we are squarely in Wilshaw's sights and almost certainly due an inspection at some point this year. We were last inspected in November 2011 but a lot of goal post moving has gone on in the intervening months. The new inspection framework is widely seen as a ravening beast out to devour schools that are not delivering to the lofty standards of our hero, the saviour of Mossbourne Academy. In essence, what this means is that if we want to retain the right to put 'outstanding' [...]

Stress. How much is too much?

2012-04-13T10:35:46+01:00April 13th, 2012|English, leadership|

One possible solution? Like most teachers, I'll be back at school on Monday and already I've got the heeby jeebies. Apart from all the usual planning and preparation, controlled assessment folders for the new GCSE specification need final moderation. Every English department is in the same position; this is our first run through with new marking criteria and so much is riding on us getting these marks right. There can be no mistakes. I know I'm not the only one to be feeling the pressure at the moment. The new watchword in education is 'accountability'. If students don't make [...]

Who inspects the inspectors?

2013-07-21T08:17:33+01:00February 5th, 2012|Featured|

Are Ofsted fit for purpose? This week Dylan Wiliam threw a wet leather gauntlet in the face of monsieur d'Ofsted, saying, "Ofsted do not know good teaching when they see it”. If this is true (and how would we know because obviously no one ever bovvers to check up on Ofsted, do they?) it casts HMCI Sir Michael Wilshaw's assertion that teachers' pay progression should depend on them teaching 'good' lessons into serious doubt. Wilshaw says “The thing that irritates good teachers, people who work hard and go the extra mile is seeing people that don’t do that being rewarded." No. The [...]

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