As reported in The Guardian a couple of days ago, there is going to be a change in the way Ofsted inspects and reports on schools:
Amanda Spielman, the chief inspector of schools, outlined details of the new inspection regime, with the current category of “outcomes for pupils” that includes exam performance to be dropped in Ofsted’s inspection reports.
“For a long time, our inspections have looked hardest at outcomes, placing too much weight on test and exam results when we consider the overall effectiveness of schools,” Spielman said in a speech to school leaders in Newcastle.
Concentrating on exam performance “has increased the pressure on school leaders, teachers and indirectly on pupils to deliver perfect data above all else,” she said.
When I first read this I was just angry, extremely so, and tweeted a couple of curt comments pointing out the irony of this coming from Ofsted, whatever one thinks is the genuine transformation through a change in leadership.
I have two calmer but no less angry observations to now make. Firstly, this is good news [relatively] to all those teachers who should no longer face the exams-focused, target setting agendas of Ofsted Inspections, and I realise I needed to acknowledge this contemporary context. Secondly, this incenses when I think of all the damage done because of this ‘previous’ regime of Inspecting to colleagues in the past, but not least to me.
I have written about this before [many times!], but I suffered genuinely diabolical Inspections in my lifetime as an English teacher and then Head of English, this latter putting me and the department under the most intense scrutiny, along with Maths in the whole school context. This without question sullied the job in my latter years. I also had to endure the scrutiny from those external ‘colleagues’ who should have known much better, influenced and prompted to do so by the shallowness of exam performance measurements, but this actually fuelling their small-minded and vindictive interventions. I will never forget nor forgive. Reflection has the potential to simply darken, but it has clarified so much for me, and those involved were lucky to get away with just chastisement and shedding some crocodile tears.
To this posting specifically – in a set of early retirement poems and stories for fellow staff 8+ years ago, I did subvert two Ofsted messages in my school, one from the Head as a memo about an Ofsted questionnaire and then that document itself. Small retrieval from the damages suffered, but a catharsis nonetheless.
These ‘erasures’ have become increasingly popular of late, and I welcome that development, but I still prefer to call them humuments which is the name given by their creator Tom Phillips. I will have written about this eleswhere on the site.
My two Ofsted humuments, erasing Ofsted in the way I hope Spielman’s promises actually realise – we shall see: