Thanks to @ClerktoGovernor for being the first to point this out to me.
OFSTED published their Subsidiary guidance supporting the inspection of maintained schools and academies today. This is the section on teaching (points 64-67):
Inspectors must not give the impression that Ofsted favours a particular teaching style. Moreover, they must not inspect or report in a way that is not stipulated in the framework, handbook or guidance. For example, they should not criticise teacher talk for being overlong or bemoan a lack of opportunity for different activities in lessons unless there is unequivocal evidence that this is slowing learning over time. It is unrealistic, too, for inspectors to necessarily expect that all work in all lessons is always matched to the specific needs of each individual. Do not expect to see ‘independent learning’ in all lessons and do not make the assumption that this is always necessary or desirable. On occasions, too, pupils are rightly passive rather than active recipients of learning. Do not criticise ‘passivity’ as a matter of course and certainly not unless it is evidently stopping pupils from learning new knowledge or gaining skills and understanding.
When in lessons, also remember that we are gathering evidence about a variety of aspects of provision and outcomes. We are not simply observing the features of the lesson but we are gathering evidence about a range of issues through observation in a lesson. Do not focus on the lesson structure at the expense of its content or the wide range of other evidence about how well children are learning in the school.
When giving feedback, inspectors must not argue that they are unable to give a particular grade because of the time spent in the lesson.
Inspectors must not aggregate the grades given for teaching is a formulaic or simplistic way in order to evaluate its quality overall.
This isn’t even half-hearted or ambiguous. This is exactly what I wanted to see.
Thank you, OFSTED.
Now, the task for those of us in schools is to make sure this is shown to every SMT type, every consultant and every person with “teaching and learning” in their job description and that no inspector gets into a classroom without confirming that they are aware of this section of the guidance. Every union rep should be making sure that this is known to everyone carrying out lesson observations of your members. Every governor needs to make certain it’s reflected in their school’s teaching and learning policy. This is as good a protection as we’ve ever had. Don’t let it be ignored.
Update 30/12/2013: I have written an analysis of why this is such an important change, in light of previous issues raised on this blog, here.