@imagineinquiry @cherrykd @debrakidd have done a great transcript of the meeting where we all meet @HarfordSean from Ofsted… So, I’ll just have a ramble…

It began with @emmaannhardy sniggering at me. I can recommend this as a rather pleasant experience and one guaranteed to make you want to play up. Just not in Ofsted’s HQ. I then discreetly informed @debrakidd that she had donut chocolate on her chin. I was on form. That’s why I got the invite to meet with Ofsted’s national director.

I am hoping that @HarfordSean is my next Lead Inspector. He is passionate about getting Ofsted right and he wants it to be a force for good. I believe he listens and from time to time he writes things down (As does his invited colleague). You see him twitch when the Ofsted stories come out. He has some very good points.

When I ask about data being the main indicator for a schools judgement he points out that if data alone was used to grade schools there would be far less good schools.

He wants the future of education inspection to bring together the education remit. To do the, “Right things in the right ways”

When “coasting” schools is raised he pushes it to one side… it’s irrelevant – it’s about inspecting to the Common Inspection Framework and doing it without fear or favour. @theprimaryhead asks can a school getting repeated goods be coasting?  Of course not… There’s the answer to a stress free leadership life people… just coast along being ‘good’ and getting a nice HMI every few years saying… “Yep… you are still just good. Bye.”

The new framework keeps things on familiar ground.

Leadership and management

Teaching and learning

Personal development, behaviour and welfare – YEAH!

Outcomes for children

He talks about comparable and accurate information, going as far to say that he would not look at the data of a very small school.

Frequent and shorter inspections came up again. Short inspections will be the reality for the majority of schools (70%) and this will be carried out by HMI and they then have the power to up or down grade the school into a full inspection. This is key. When they call that inspection you will know right there if it’s a positive or a negative. Whatever, it will be stressful.

I was concerned as to whether there are enough HMI in role. Sean felt there needed to be a tweak in the recruitment to meet the need. There are also supporting schools, LLE and NLE’s. I note for the third time in three weeks someone saying it’s not about NLE’s and outstanding schools. Seems the capacity is widening? This is a good thing.

@HeyMissSmith got heated about a Broad and Balanced curriculum. As a Y6 teacher she sees what the testing calendar does to the curriculum. More critically how schools are using this to paint the picture of excellence when in fact they are failing children on many levels. Too many children are being fed a poor diet in schools and SATs are too weighted towards a successful Ofsted.

@debrakidd asked about RI and the impact of this upon Ofsted… Again, the without fear or favour aspect of Ofsteds role crept into the discussion. I think that this phrase is the cause of much of the issues so many have with Ofsted. It is combative.  It says that there are no excuses. I know why. We are terrified of seeming to condone low standards… so we make up a perceived middle ground that is consistent and fair for everyone.  It is not helpful. I feel that if I took on a school in a deprived area in Special Measures I would like some favours. I would like time. I would like understanding. I would like respect. I would like bloody flowers on a Friday! Context is key and the cold grey eyes of Ofsted need to understand this more than any other. That is why I would like @HarfordSean to be my next lead inspector because through talking to him I can see that he has that understanding. But, there are an army of inspectors out there and do they get the message? Are they on the same sheet? Are they on board with the third F? Without Fear, Without Favour but Fair. Until they are I fear that Ofsted will always be the ones we blame for why we left education.

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