Tuesday 13 September 2011

How Ofsted will judge and grade you this year.

Another new year, another new set of Ofsted criteria. Well, in my mind that's not necessarily a bad thing as teaching and education have to evolve and keep up to speed with society.

In July, we had an Inset from an Ofsted inspector, who has been piloting the new criteria for inspections. The meeting was a bit bizarre to be honest, we were first given a set of the new criteria which had "confidential" written all over it. We were instructed that we couldn't take copies away with us, but the inspector didn't have any issues with us taking detailed notes. I think one colleague practically copied the confidential documents out by hand verbatim. It seemed a little pointless, but no doubt, if we get called up for an inspection, I know who I'll be visiting for extra notes!

Anyway here's the breakdown:

  • Key emphasis on Differentiation
  • Assessment For Learning still features heavily
  • Emphasis on the use of support staff in lessons

A more detailed overview

For observers, we should be observing based on agreed criteria and we should be commenting on what DID HAPPEN not what did not. Suggestions for future lessons, can come at the end.

Observers should be looking for challenging tasks that improve pupils' learning.
Teachers should ensure ALL pupils are challenged in the starter, main and plenary. Frequently, starters are used and half the pupils are clearly not challenged and gain nothing from the exercise. So differentiation from the outset is key. The observers should be trying to assess "is something new being learnt?".

Note to self, perhaps students can choose their own starters/questions based on colour-coded cards. So instead of asking a student a question, you ask them to pick out a card, either a basic, challenging or gold card. The gold being the hardest questions.

Constructive feedback should be given by teachers based on previous learning. Teachers should avoid "going back to the beginning" and always try to start pupils at the level where they left off last time.

Teachers should ensure students know how they can improve learning / move on. There is nothing new about this criteria.

There is an emphasis on progress for all and more interestingly, considering our recent discussions about "wellbeing"- Teachers enthuse , engage and motivate pupils so that they find learning is engrossing and enjoyable.

There should be a variety of activities for a variety of learning styles. Teachers were advised to not simply differentiate by learning outcomes.

The emphasis is on learning and progress, not on teacher activity.

There was a key addition of "how your lesson was used to improve literacy/numeracy in the subject".

Finally, there was a change in the language using the term "learning intentions" instead of "learning objectives".

It might seem like a load of the same, but I think there is a positive step in the mentioning of lessons being "engrossing and enjoyable". I think teaching and learning has to be fun, if it's box ticking for the sake of it, students probably aren't learning a great deal and are not really enjoying their learning experience. I think that part of the goal of addressing educational disadvantage is getting pupils to find their learning enjoyable and for them to want to learn and want to do well. It seems that Ofsted is taking a step in the right direction in recognising that lessons do need to be enjoyable.

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