How have OFSTED behaved in the last 2 weeks?

January 16, 2014

As you may recall, I pointed out (on January 7th 2014) that some of the schools inspected before the new guidance (which clearly tells inspectors they should not be demanding independent learning and complaining about teacher talk and passive students) but published since then, have continued to make the very comments that the guidance warned against. In a couple of the cases, where this bias might have skewed the whole judgement, action has been taken and the reports are under review. This leaves the question of what the reports published since then have been like. Can you guess the answer?

School names are below the quotations.

This is a school that requires improvement. It is not good because … Some pupils are over reliant on adults and do not take enough responsibility for their own learning…

The quality of teaching requires improvement… Not all teachers give enough time to pupils to discuss their work, share their ideas and build their confidence. Consequently, lessons can be over controlled by the teacher, reducing the opportunity for pupils to take on responsibility for directing their own learning….

The behaviour and safety of pupils require improvement… Behaviour requires improvement and is not yet good because many pupils are not provided with sufficient opportunities to develop the necessary skills to take responsibility for their own learning, and are over reliant on adults for guidance…

Robert Blake Science College. The last part of this is particularly outrageous as this seems to be virtually the only significant criticism of the behaviour in the school.

This is a school that requires improvement. It is not good because … Students are not always given enough opportunities to take responsibility for their own learning…

…In the best lessons, teachers make sure that work is provided at the right level for all students, probe understanding with skilful questioning and give students opportunities to undertake a variety of tasks and take responsibility for their own learning. In less successful lessons the teachers provide too much direction and limit the variety of activities so that students are not given enough opportunity to work by themselves.

Chipping Sodbury School

What does the school need to do to improve further? Improve the quality of teaching so that students’ achievement becomes consistently good for all groups of students and across all subjects by… providing opportunities for students to engage in their own learning and become more active, taking responsibility for their own progress.

…In the less effective lessons, students do not get enough opportunities to take responsibility for their own learning by working independently or in groups to research and explore new ideas and topics themselves. Teachers do not give students enough opportunity to drive their own learning and students are too passive.

Marlwood School

This is a school that requires improvement. It is not good because… There are not enough opportunities in lessons for students to talk about their work and to work independently…

What does the school need to do to improve further? …Improve teaching so that it is consistently good or better by ensuring that … students have opportunities in lessons to talk about their work and to work independently so they are more actively involved in learning.

The quality of teaching requires improvement …There are very few opportunities in lessons for students to talk about what they are doing and to work independently so they are more actively engaged in the learning process.

The behaviour and safety of pupils require improvement …Sometimes in lessons they are passive and do not take part, particularly during questioning sessions or when listening to the teacher, and they are not involved in independent activities.

St Paul’s Catholic School. Again, this is one where behaviour seems to have been marked down mainly because of the type of activity in lessons.

It is not yet an outstanding school because… Pupils are not offered enough opportunities to take responsibility for their own learning or to develop as independent learners…

What does the school need to do to improve further? Improve the quality of teaching so that more is outstanding by …encouraging pupils to become more independent and take greater responsibility for their own learning.

The quality of teaching is good… However there are not sufficient opportunities for the  development of independent learning built into all lessons or subjects.

Leighton Middle School

The quality of teaching requires improvement… Too few lessons have opportunities for students to work independently of the teacher for periods of time, so that they are able to take responsibility for their own learning rather than relying too much on teachers for explanations and directions.

The International School (Birmingham)

This is a school that requires improvement. It is not good because … Sometimes teachers give students too much information in lessons and do not encourage them enough to learn independently.

What does the school need to do to improve further? …provide regular opportunities for students to learn independently

The quality of teaching requires improvement … Teachers sometimes direct students’ learning too much, preventing students from working independently. This limits students’ chances to discuss ideas with each other and to come up
with their own ways of solving problems. In the sixth form, while the teaching is improving and much is now good, teachers’ questioning is sometimes not searching enough, and work does not offer enough opportunities for students
to work independently.

John Willmott School

What does the school need to do to improve further? Raise the proportion of good and outstanding teaching and behaviour in order to accelerate … by… increasing the opportunities provided for teachers to learn from the best practice that already exists within and beyond the academy itself, with a particular focus on how the best teaching pushes students to think for themselves and work more independently…

In lessons that require improvement, students are less willing to work hard to achieve their learning targets, preferring instead to expect a lot of ‘scaffolding’ or significant help from teaching and support staff… teachers sometimes over-direct the lesson. This reduces the time available for students to work collaboratively and independently at thinking and solving problems for themselves.

De Warenne Academy

It is not yet an outstanding school because … students, in particular the most-able, are not always prompted to find things out for themselves… In some lessons, there are too few opportunities for students to actively participate in their own learning.

What does the school need to do to improve further?  Improve the quality of teaching and learning so that all is at least good and more is outstanding by …making sure that students have more opportunities for paired and group work to help them to develop independent learning skills…

Students are especially motivated in lessons where there is good pace and opportunities for active participation to develop their own ideas… Students respond well when they work in pairs and groups… Teaching is especially effective when there is a brisk pace and when teachers allow students to find out answers for themselves. In a small minority of lessons, teachers spend too much time explaining what is required and pace slows, so that students get less opportunity to complete work independently… Teaching is not outstanding because teachers do not always require students, particularly the most-able, to think more deeply about subjects they are studying. The use of problem solving and independent research so that students take more responsibility for their own learning is not a consistent feature of all lessons.

Whitcliffe Mount – Specialist Business and Enterprise College

Lessons are sometimes too closely directed by teachers. As a result, students do not shape their own learning often enough and instead are responding to a series of tasks or worksheets provided by the teacher.

Acklam Grange School

The best lessons are ambitious, helping students to work independently, think things out for themselves and achieve their very best.

It is not yet an outstanding school because … A small proportion of teaching does not yet give students the opportunities for the active learning they say they most enjoy and feel challenged by…

The best teaching is well paced, highly interactive and gives students responsibility for their learning so that they develop skills to work on their own and think things out for themselves.

Vyners School

It is not yet an outstanding school because … Too few students have developed sufficient confidence in their learning to be able to question and challenge new ideas and knowledge independently…

providing challenges in all lessons that help students to develop a lively and flexible response to problem solving so that they take responsibility for the quality of their work and become confident and resilient learners

Where teaching is good or better…Teachers begin lessons with imaginative activities which fire the enthusiasm of students and enable them to work independently … In the best lessons, teachers motivate students by creating opportunities for them to work creatively and solve problems together… Occasionally, activities are unimaginative and the teacher talks too much, giving insufficient opportunities for students to contribute ideas.

Thomas Knyvett College

Most mathematics teaching is of good quality and enables pupils to make good or better progress. However, in a minority of lessons, especially for pupils who find the subject hard, teachers focus too much on the need to remember routines with insufficient questioning of pupils, to probe their understanding, or linking to real-life applications.

Dorothy Stringer School

What does the school need to do to improve further? Improve the quality of teaching so it is consistently good or better by… providing as many opportunities as possible for pupils to work independently and find things out for themselves

Kirk Hammerton Church of England Primary School

Teaching is improving but does not always develop the necessary independent learning skills…

In less effective lessons, students were not given enough opportunity to work independently and develop their own ideas. This was because teachers talked too much and too little time was made available for students to work on planned activities… In the best lessons, students had opportunities to work in a range of different ways, including independently…

In all lessons there was a positive environment for learning. This is particularly the case where students are highly engaged and find lessons interesting because they have well-planned opportunities for independent working. No disruptive behaviour was seen in lessons, although students are less positive about their learning where lessons are overly teacher-led.

Perryfields High School Specialist Maths and Computing College

These were pretty easy to find, and represent the majority of reports I looked at, although I did look at more secondary schools than primary schools. Some of the above are not just in violation of the new guidance , but against everything OFSTED have been claiming for the last 2 years. It is staggering that there are still reports demanding more pair work and group work. Some, like the report for John Willmott School, seem at least as contentious as the two I read before that are currently “under review”.

I’m not intending to do another one of these posts until we have inspections carried out under the new guidance. Unless somebody finds something really incredible, of course.



  1. Reblogged this on The Echo Chamber.

  2. Ofsted usually publish reports most days. The last published report on a primary school (including monitoring visits and subject visits) as of today (16 Jan 2014) was published 10 Jan 2014. There is one secondary report published 11 Jan and none since. I wonder, is someone reading them all for this kind of thing – will there be a sudden change in tone when the next reports are published?? In another part of the forest I did some analysis of comments on governance, which could be criticised as expecting things of governors which are not part of their remit – but I didn’t have the time to sustain it. The implicit model of governance emerging from reading some reports is shaped towards governors behaving like Ofsted rather than governors being governors. I know the model is in transition, but inspectors need to step out of inspectors shoes and into governors shoes if they are to make sharp, effective and credible recommendations for what governors should do.

    • The other possibility is that we are now in a natural space between the last of the reports from before the Christmas holidays, and the first of the ones from this month.

      • My local primary school’s report was ‘published’ – we were told it would be on the site earlier this week. It has not appeared. We were inspected in the last week of term. Although the report is finished (we have it) it just hasn’t gone online. No idea why though.

        • Supposedly there are 6 reports that went up and were then put under review and removed. Could it be one of them? Could you email me the school name, please?

        • And I know of another school inspected before the holidays but not published. OFSTED do seem to be on hold. Perhaps somebody noticed the shambles described above before I did?

  3. Durand’s is now back on the Ofsted website with significant revisions..

    • Oh good grief. This is exactly what I feared. They’ve removed the phrases but kept the judgements. There is no explanation in the report for why behaviour isn’t outstanding.

  4. Scanning through Chipping Sodbury’s report it would appear that ‘teacher talk’ has been rebranded as ‘direction’.

  5. Do you have any comments on what it is like being a new teacher at a UTC? I have been wondering about applying for a post.

    • A friend of mine worked at one and really enjoyed it. I suspect though, that they are all different and there’s no guarantees.

  6. I work at St Paul’s Catholic School and I must say that the report sounds like a completely different school. The report contains several statements that can easily being refuted but numerical evidence, which the inspection team chose to ignore.
    Furthermore, the conduct of the inspection team was highly questionable with several examples of unprofessional behaviour. Needless to say, the headteacher has sent a letter of complaint to Ofsted although I dare say they probably have a backlog of such complaints to deal with

  7. […] wrote a blogpost the other day about all the ridiculous things OFSTED had been saying in inspection reports in the […]

  8. […] that broke the guidance (I originally identified 5 such report but only 2 have been changed, and when I looked the following week a majority of the reports I found broke the […]

  9. […] may recall a post from a week ago listing various OFSTED reports from the previous two weeks which violated the latest guidance (not […]

  10. […] my last post, I went through the OFSTED reports that I had commented on here to see if they had been edited after being published. However, I failed to comment on the first […]

  11. […] terrible things on our children), the content is very different: Ofsted’s reports have been clinically dissected to illustrate that inspectors continue to endorse and expect a child-centred pedagogy, predicated […]

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