Have OFSTED Changed Yet?January 7, 2014
As I reported previously, OFSTED changed their inspection guidance on the 23rd December 2013 to make it far clearer that particular types of teaching (particularly reduced teacher talk, “independent” learning or lots of different activities) were no longer required. Obviously, inspections carried out since then won’t have been published, but reports for inspections carried out before Christmas have been published since the guidance changed. You may be wondering if there are any signs of improvement.
These are from reports with a publication date later than the 23rd December.
However, a small number of teachers do not involve students sufficiently in discussion… Even the youngest in Year 9 … show they can sustain their commitment to work without having to rely on direct adult supervision.
King Edward VI Church of England Voluntary Controlled Upper School
This is a school that requires improvement. It is not good because … students have not always been required to find things out for themselves and thus take more responsibility for their own learning. On occasions, students are not given sufficient opportunities to support their classmates in their learning.
What does the school need to do to improve further?… Embed the good and exemplary classroom practice which already exists … by: developing students’ independent learning skills so that they can take more responsibility for their own progress [and] ensuring students are given even more opportunities to support one another in the classroom and act as extra resources for the learning of their classmates…
In the best lessons, for example a Year 8 ICT lesson in which teaching was judged outstanding, students are required to think for themselves and are also encouraged to support their classmates when they are finding things difficult. … On occasions, however, students’ independent learning skills are not fully developed and they are not expected to take sufficient responsibility for their own progress, nor are they encouraged to support their peers in their learning.
John Ruskin School (Cumbria)
Teaching is typically characterised by … the provision of a variety of well-constructed activities, … opportunities for students to work collaboratively… In less-effective lessons teachers provide too many answers themselves and their questioning does not allow or encourage students to think for themselves…
Parrs Wood High School
What does the school need to do to improve further? … Improve teaching further so that more is outstanding by ensuring that:
students are encouraged and have more opportunities to take more responsibility for their own learning…
…Occasionally, however, teachers … hold centre stage too often and students spend too long listening when they are keen to get on with their own, independent learning. This results in some passivity towards learning.
In the majority of lessons students have positive attitudes towards learning. However, sometimes students would rather sit back and let the teacher do the work for them.
Cardinal Newman Catholic High School (Cheshire)
And the one that got me looking at this, after @miconm and @Samfr pointed it out on Twitter, is for a school which was previously outstanding but is now only good, despite an excellent reputation (particularly for discipline) and progress from KS1 to KS2 appearing to be much better than in similar schools.
It is not yet an outstanding school because … Pupils, particularly the youngest children and the more able, are not encouraged enough to work independently…
What does the school need to do to improve further? Improve teaching so that more is consistently good and outstanding by… giving pupils more opportunities to work on their own and to deepen their knowledge through activities that promote discussion, collaboration and challenge…
Pupils … like lessons where they are actively involved. Older pupils told inspectors, ‘talking together increases our knowledge, the best learning is when we have lots of discussion and interaction.’ Lessons seen across the academy did not always encourage and promote this independence or collaborative learning…
Teaching requires improvement when teachers talk for too long so pupils do not get enough opportunities to work alone or in groups. In Key Stage 1 too many worksheets in books mean that pupils do not have enough opportunities to write independently…
Behaviour is not outstanding because pupils do not display a thirst for learning or take enough responsibility for their own learning.
I realise these inspections took place, and the reports were probably drafted, before the new guidance which means the inspectors have not necessarily been any more negligent or incompetent than usual. However, how can the judgements in these reports, which will have had a huge impact on those schools and on individual teachers have any credibility at all, given that OFSTED have since made it clear that inspectors should not be saying the things they have said in the reports? How can these judgements possibly be allowed to stand?