The Inspector Calls!

I am in a school that is being inspected by Ofsted. Staff are feeling very nervous. They worked most of the week-end making sure that their plans were just right. The displays are fantastic and school looks wonderful.
…and so it begins. First stop the office. The young part-time secretary explains to the inspector that she is feeling VERY nervous. He does little to re-assure her. She shows the safeguarding document that now plays such a mojor part in the intial stages of inspections. There’s a column missing. The cooks and cleaners are not on the list. He will see her again tomorrow to check again. She feels really awful.
Lessons are seen. None is as good as they can be. The children ‘don’t like that bloke at the back’ and staff endevour to move their attention away from the inspector and back to the learning. The tension is almost palpable as staff hear stories of lessons already observed. One teacher is glad of being given another chance later in the inspection to show how good they can be.
The head teacher does not know how best to support her staff. She knows they can do better. We all know they can do better but nerves are very powerful when you are under such scrutiny.
Lunch – who will the inspector eat with? The young people always step up in these circumstances and the inspector has plenty of conversations. The bell signals the afternoon session. Where will he take his clip board now? Will the group be settled or still full of ‘playtime’?
At the end of the day, the senior leaders get feed-back. Thankfully, they have list of things to get that will help create a fuller picture. None will sleep soundly again tonight.


Day Two begins much in the same way. I visit staff pat, hug, reassure. They want to know where he will be going, who he will be seeing today. I don’t have the answer just words of encouragement. On a personal point, he hasn’t seen me yet. I’m not a teacher but have played a part leading the Governing Body. I want him to know how we have improved but I’m not sure I’ll get the chance.
The atmosphere is lighter today. Staff have that ‘we’re going to show him’ attitude and there is a determination on faces. He speaks to the young people. They’ll tell it how it is!
Before we know where we are it is over. The feedback tells us that we are ‘GOOD’! We are all shocked – not because we don’t think we deserve that judgement – we do and we are. No, it was because over the past two days we had no idea what the inspector was thinking. It was probably better that we didn’t, we tell each other. We may have ‘taken our foot off the pedal’ ‘eyes off the ball’.
Maybe, but it is not an experience I want to have again in a hurry and this was my fourth!

What have your inspection experiences been like? Is there a better way to find out the quality of our work?

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