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Nobody Expects The Spanish Inquisition!


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This is a quote I found in the Telegraph about snap inspections of schools.

 

 

“People fear that no notice inspection sends a message that we don't trust the profession, that Ofsted has become an arm of the Spanish Inquisition,” said the Education Secretary.

 

Great, eh?! I hope nobody has a visit from the Spanish Inquisition today!

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I presume that it is fine for us not to be trusted as professionals.

I would love to hear the argument about why it is reasonable for the government to make statements like this while still justifying the need for no notice inspections of early years settings.

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This makes me very cross!!

An article in the Sunday Times 6th May stated ‘Gove U-turn on snap inspections for schools’ this indicates that schools are now going to receive notice before Ofsted inspections.

Apparently there has been a ’storm of protest’ from NAHT members, apparently Sir Michael Wilshaw , head of Ofsted, was the person pushing for no notice inspections, but Michael Gove has told the NAHT conference that following the consultation “Head teachers and teachers deserve to have the chance to present the best face of the school”.

Russell Hobby, the NAHT general secretary welcomed the U-turn “the head has a right to be in the school when it is inspected, so they need to know when it will happen, it is a make or break event and you should be there”.

This is not the same for non-maintained settings….. How can we as leaders and managers show ‘the best face’ of our settings if we are not there?’ …I returned from the NDNA conference once when Ofsted turned up unannounced, the Inspector said I hadn’t needed to, but how can they judge leadership and management when the leader is not present? Also we need to be there to support and guide our staff, who find the process alarming and stressful. Had I been inspected on the same date the following year I would have been at my son’s wedding and unable to return.

I believe that ALL Settings require notice before inspection and have made this comment on the Ofsted consultation site.

I feel that although we are all professionals, we are still perceived as lower quality than state nurseries (who will have notice) and likely to try and ‘pull the wool over’ Ofsted inspectors eyes if we are given the same notice. This is ludicrous, any Ofsted Inspector who knows what they are doing would soon root out any very recent changes to practice, they only need to speak to the children!

We should all be afforded the same level of professional courtesy; I will get off my soap box now!

Julie :o

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I've emailed my MP about the comments,I've asked for his comments to be clarified and why we in EY dont qualify for the same level of trust.

I'll let you know of any reply.

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If you took Michael Gove's statement to its conclusion, if we were trusted as professionals we'd never need to be Ofsted inspected. So we know that inspection isn't about a lack of trust.

 

I'd say that maybe Ofsted isn't like the Spanish Inquisition enough: how often do we hear that settings have been graded as 'outstanding' because they can put on a good show at inspection? :ph34r: I will duck now.

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I think all bodies who are working with the general public whether in schools, nurseries, care homes etc have to be inspected and regulated and cannot be operated solely on trust.

My argument is that over the past few years our industry has had millions of pounds invested, to improve quality by increasing the qualification level of leaders and managers as we move towards a graduate led profession. I only ask to be given the same courtesy as other professionals who are doing the same job as I am in the maintained sector.

If it’s a no –notice inspection then that’s fine so long as it is the same for all early years providers.

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If you took Michael Gove's statement to its conclusion, if we were trusted as professionals we'd never need to be Ofsted inspected. So we know that inspection isn't about a lack of trust.

 

I'd say that maybe Ofsted isn't like the Spanish Inquisition enough: how often do we hear that settings have been graded as 'outstanding' because they can put on a good show at inspection? :ph34r: I will duck now.

 

Agreed, but if inspections are going to continue they should at least be fair and send the same message regarding trust.

As to the inspections being like the spanish inquisition, if Mr Gove thinks they were never meant to be like that then why doesnt he abolish them or at the very least give them an overhaul? Our last one involved the inspector chatting and doing very little looking or reading and a previous one said on entry we wouldnt get a good because we were in a church hall! Neither left me feeling we had been competently inspected.

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In fairness, all the teachers in the school where we rent our room, are horrified that we have no notice inspections. Mind you that might be Ofsted wandering on to the school grounds unannounced!

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would they dare?????? and face our wrath????????

 

Nope - not me - I'm terrified of you all. However, it might be worth remembering that while some teachers might not want no-notice inspections it doesn't mean they think anyone else should have them!

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Wrath?? Aren't we on the same side? Fight for what you believe is right. Usually any time teachers dare to stand up for what we think is right, we are summarily slagged off in the national media. Ask schools to help you. Stick together. Join forces. If the principle has been established in schools then why can't you use that to your advantage. Don't fight the teachers! Fight the government.

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would they dare?????? and face our wrath????????

Dear me!

Well I'm an ex-teacher and completely agree that we should be inspected in exactly the same way and by the same teams for EY's, and under the same criteria. In a Children's Centre, certainly last time we were inspected' we had two teams, the team that do 'care' settings and also the Education OFSTED team, ( 2 people for 3 days) who do maintained settings. There are many similarities in the teams but they come with a different remit. For example a 'limiting' judgement in a maintained setting is the ability of the Governing body. Unless they are outstanding the setting cannot be judged outstanding, however brilliant they are, so the equivalent would be the committee in a non-maintained setting I would imagine. I'm not sure if it is the same for you. In a school setting the team are looking at the whole school not just a part of it and right across the curriculum. There may be as many as 400 pupils including EY's so the emphasis is different, and the EY's is just a small part of the final report. A lot of emphasis is on tracking, assessment and record keeping. These things can't be fudged, even with 2 days notice, and they are continually monitored and kept up to date by Senior Management. Imagine this is a school with over 1000 pupils in the secondary sector, and remember that when these things hit the press about OFSTED they are including them as well. Their HT's want to be there when inspected as they are responsible for all these children and possibly 80 odd teaching staff plus all the other staff that work in a school. If you think how much we do in a nursery then it doesn't take much imagination to think how complex a large school is with a huge age range. In recent years less emphasis has been on observing teaching but on the ability of leadership teams to observe and assess teaching. I know it has recently changed, and emphasis is on teaching again. I remember the good old days when OFSTED arrived for 4 or 5 days and I was observed every day except the last afternoon, with only half an hour free of an inspector.

At the end of the day we don't make the rules.

 

i just wanted to point out that Governing bodies are volunteers.

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would they dare?????? and face our wrath????????

I would hope that no-one here on the Forum needs to dare to speak their mind - we're all in the business of supporting children and their families, and as such are on the same side, I'd like to think. What is so great about the FSF is that we feel we're in a safe, nurturing environment and can voice our opinions without incurring wrath! ;)

 

Teachers have their own pressures, work under very different circumstances and their Ofsted experience is very different to those of us who work in PVI settings. I was just hoping they'd come along and offer their own perspective on the issue of no-notice inspections. :1b

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I teach in reception in a 1 form entry school and have now been through 3 inspections in the last year. (a 2 day one last june, RE in September and Art and Design yesterday!) I don't think for 1 minute that it is fair that we get a couple of days notice and early years settings don't but I can see why we do. In our general inspection last June they knew exactly what they were wanting to see based upon the school Sef and they asked for very particular information, evidence and reports. eg they wanted us to compile a report on an sen child and what interventions had been put into place during their school life so far. They wanted the progress of free school meal children to be tracked and analysed. They also specify what lessons they want to see and in what subjects, all these logistical things take time to organise within a school. For our art inspection yesterday they wanted to see a portfolio of art spreading the school and have a memory stick of photos -that takes a long time to organise. I have no idea what an early years inspection is like if not in a school but what I am certain of is that ofsted is a horrendous experience for everyone whether you have 2 days notice or none, noone likes it but we just have to lump it!

Deb

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Please note my comment re wrath was tongue in cheek! I simply meant that for those of us in the PVI sector this as a real bone of contention, and likely to cause controversy. I absolutely meant no disrespect at all.

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Please note my comment re wrath was tongue in cheek! I simply meant that for those of us in the PVI sector this as a real bone of contention, and likely to cause controversy. I absolutely meant no disrespect at all.

dont worry i think we all knew that really ;)

 

i do think that there has to be more equality in inspections (both ways!) but i think as a pvi we have to be careful for what we wish for often i am irratated by the minor things (like no notice/registration procedures/health and safety rules) which schools seem not to have to comply with but as pointed out there is a lot of statistical evidence which we do not produce (nor would i have the time or the administration time to do) we just have to acccept that settings are different i guess! perhaps all early years settings should be inspected separately??

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I would hope that no-one here on the Forum needs to dare to speak their mind - we're all in the business of supporting children and their families, and as such are on the same side, I'd like to think. What is so great about the FSF is that we feel we're in a safe, nurturing environment and can voice our opinions without incurring wrath! ;)

 

Teachers have their own pressures, work under very different circumstances and their Ofsted experience is very different to those of us who work in PVI settings. I was just hoping they'd come along and offer their own perspective on the issue of no-notice inspections. :1b

 

That's the crucial acknowledgement --it is not like for like nor are the judgements like for like although the terminology may be the same.

For me the acknowledgement that an inspection can be make or break time in a school rings so true. I have seen and heard of so many good teachers destroyed by Ofsted because at the end of the day it is a judgement of one moment in time and can even be quite subjective. (My own experiences validate this although I do want to go into details as it is too painful.) Judgements made are very difficult to overturn even if they are challenged and untrue.

 

Ofsted is obviously a very emotive subject for us all.

 

As for notice, Ive had inspections that were notified 6 working weeks ahead and that is HELL.

Ive had inspections that were 2 days notice and a monitoring inspection that was 1 day. Neither of those were nice but they were manageable. Ive also had a weeks notice of an HMI subject inspection, for which we had little in terms of preparation until the last minute and which turned out to have a hidden agenda.

 

I can not imagine the stress that a no notice inspection would incurr but I do know that the stress and pressure in schools as ofsted becomes due can be unbearable.

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I do think a lot of the stress is caused by ofsted and the 'pressures 'that we feel are all palpable. Schools and pvi settings can be made or broken with an ofsted judgement and pvi's do not have the financial backing of an LEA so in some cases it can cut off peoples income.

(As to changing a judgement it is possible...i've done it! but it's not easy!)

you are quite right to say it is an emotive issue but one that i think we need to go forward together on....

The problem with no notice inspections is that you are always aware roughly (!!!!) when they will happen so the fear factor is there every day when you wake up/go to sleep/go in to work...have a day off!!! i think this is what we get cross about ...knowing that you are going to be inspected sometime in the next 7 months and knowing that you are going to be inspected next week are very different panics!...and as someone who has had 3 inspections in less than a year i feel i can talk !! :huh: :(

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Some thoughts:

 

Different institutions, different inspection frameworks.

Primary schools are being inspected across 2-3 key stages not just 1 and this can be quite complex to arrange for instance where the school is on several sites.The inspectors also need to plan the inspection from information given by the HT, which is not available online. The HT has a clear role in the school inspection process and from the initial phone call the school is essentially "being inspected". The first phone conversation between the HT and the lead inspector sets a lot of the tone of what follows and there is continued contact until the team arrive. Heads are expected to do joint lesson observations with the inspectors to ensure their judgements of teaching and learning are accurate - hence another need to be there.

 

Overarching Ofsted judgements can be challenged it's true, but Ofsted judgements of your lesson are not "official" - but they do stick and are used against individuals. Hence I think for individual teachers notice is useful. Are all practitioners in the setting individually observed and judged?

 

The outcomes of Ofsteds for schools can have very specific repercussions too - get satisfactory for 2 inspections in a row (now dubbed stubbornly satisfactory) and you will be under scrutiny of the DfE and liable to be turned into an academy. In fact satisfactory will possibly become a category. Would everyone want that for inspections for all - unless you are good or outstanding you are failing?

 

What Gove said was stupid, but the best way to do something about that is to write to your MP and complain. Schools didn't make the system - Govt did.

 

Cx

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