New OFSTED HandbookAugust 2, 2013
I have just found the latest version of the OFSTED handbook available here.
There are some changes that may reflect recent concerns expressed on this blog and a change in the educational mood. All new additions are highlighted in yellow (according to the site, maintained by Heather Leatt, I linked to above).
We have some acknowledgement that schools may have a very different ethos:
We have clearer statements about what should be expected from teachers in lesson observations, more in tune with what Sir Michael Wilshaw said here (the disparity between Wilshaw’s words and inspectors’ practice I’ve been kicking up a fuss about for several months).
There are several references to “knowledge” as an outcome of schooling. Here is just one example of this:
A similar addition has been made to the grade descriptor for “good”. Outstanding behaviour now involves “a thirst for knowledge”. Most noticeable of all, this is now part of the descriptors for outstanding teaching:
There are a couple of other things worth mentioning, although I am less sure of what to make of them. There’s a lot of emphasis on judging teaching by student attitude, which is something which strikes me as fair on a whole school level, but unfair if it is used to judge a teacher in a single observation. The one that I really can’t decide is good or bad is this (and similar words in the description of outstanding behaviour):
This is potentially a positive thing in that it can be used to justify whole class teaching in observed lessons. On the other hand, inspectors could now use this to argue that they must see some groupwork to justify describing behaviour as good or outstanding. There are some subjects where this is likely to happen in almost any school (e.g. drama) so I’m hoping it won’t become an excuse for any further extension of the expectation on the part of inspectors that good teaching involves groupwork in all subjects.
So, overall I’d say an improvement. Whether it will actually change anything on the ground, we will have to see. Please contact me if you get inspected and let me know if you think they are following the new rules.