As part of Rising Stars relationship with Ofsted we’ll be running a live twitter chat with Joanna Hall, Deputy Director of Schools for Ofsted @JoannaHallHMI on 14 June from 8-9pm. Have your chance to ask the questions you’d like to know from Ofsted and find out what they’re really looking for.We’ll be chatting using the hashtag #rslivechat.
We know that staff in schools and nurseries are working hard across the country to give children the best education they can. We’re not in the business of making it harder for them – and we don’t want leaders to use us as a reason to create extra, unnecessary work for staff.
We’ve been talking about Ofsted myths for a while now and I’m pleased to say that we’ve just published a new set of early years myths alongside the early years inspection handbook, which is proving as popular as our mythbuster which is part of the school inspection handbook.
In schools, myths about what Ofsted wants are still being shared by teachers, senior leadership teams and governors. Elaborate marking schemes are sometimes requested of staff and all kinds of different colour pens, levels of detail or complex methods are put in place.
In fact, there is remarkably little high quality, relevant research with evidence to suggest that detailed or extensive marking has any significant impact on pupils’ learning. We don’t want schools to do this as a kind of ‘belt and braces’ approach just in case they get the Ofsted phone call.
As long as staff are meeting the needs of the school’s policy on marking, which will probably take into account the different subjects and ages of pupils, that’s what our inspectors want to get assurance on that is happening.
Inspectors have continued to report on marking extensively at some inspections, especially if there were areas for improvement in previous inspection reports. However, I have told our inspectors when reporting that they must not give any impression that marking needs to be undertaken in any particular format and to any particular degree of sophistication or detail. They shouldn’t be making recommendations for improvements involving marking unless the school’s marking policy isn’t being followed by a substantial proportion of staff.
Our Early Years mythbuster too is a useful read for pre-school, nursery staff and childminders. Again, we don’t want to take staff away from their most important job – taking care of children and teaching them. We don’t want people worrying about what they think we want to see, when it may not be the case.
We don’t want to see bulging files of paperwork for each child. Managers don’t have to be on hand all the time during an inspection. We don’t have set ways we expect you to assess children’s progress or set out this information.
I can’t say it enough; we’re not here to trick you or catch you out. We’re all on the same side – the side of children and young people. Their education and care is too important to be sidetracked by misinformation and myths.
Have a look at our mythbusters and our #OfstedMyths films, which clarify what inspectors don’t expect – I hope some of you have managed to see these and please do share with your colleagues.
I also recommend that you follow my colleague @GillJonesOfsted who is brilliant at keeping us all up to date on all things EY at Ofsted.