Since taking up your post as the new Head of Ofsted, you have made it known that you, “want everyone to see us (Ofsted) as a force for improvement.”
I am sure you know that it is ‘how’ you do this that will determine whether opinions are changed and Ofsted is fully embraced by all in the teaching profession as a ‘force for improvement.’
From my own perspective, as a former Head and one who frequently observes the emotional aftermath of Ofsted inspections, these are just a few points that you might like to consider as you seek to change the way in which Ofsted is perceived.
– Take the fear out of Ofsted inspections: Children don’t thrive in cultures of fear. Therefore, it is ludicrous to expect our teachers and school leaders to thrive in a climate where an Ofsted inspection is the equivalent to having the sword of Damocles hanging over your head.
– Value the context as well as the data: Far too little value is placed on the unique contexts for different schools. Most head teachers know in intimate detail the intricacies of the families and communities they serve. This information provides the framework around which they build their school improvement strategies. Ofsted needs to acknowledge this more when schools are inspected.
– Find a way to inspire the profession: I have yet to come across a school that has felt inspired after an Ofsted inspection. The reality is that many are left tired, exhausted and simply relived that the whole process is over. Just imagine the difference it would make, if teachers and school leaders felt inspired after an Ofsted inspection. Perhaps then, Ofsted would truly be ‘seen as a force for improvement.’
– Celebrate our teachers and school leaders: Sadly, it appears to have become a norm to criticise our teachers and school leaders. No one is perfect, but I know many in the profession who try to achieve perfection of some sort for our children. Of course, perfection is unattainable, but many will keep on striving to give all our children a chance of a better future. So a bit of praise, every now and then, for all their hard work wouldn’t go a miss.
It is my belief that the majority of our teachers and school leaders do a fantastic job. For many it is a vocation. A profession they have chosen to enter because they passionately believe that they can make a difference. The past incarnations of Ofsted have not served to fuel this passion. Instead, they have tended to pour scorn upon teachers and school leaders. Standards cannot and will not be raised if the vocational vitality of adults in our schools is not protected and supported.
I very much hope as you make your plans for the future of inspections in our schools that we will see a more humane side to Ofsted. I hope that a passion for excellence, rigour and high standards for all will sit equally alongside compassion, humanity and hope, and that they will no longer be mutually exclusive.
Director of Integrity Coaching
Supporting Our School Leaders
If our leaders are to sustain consistently high levels of effectiveness and develop as leaders amidst the growing emotional cost of leading, the complexity of the role and heightened pressure of being a school leader, I believe it’s vital that they are properly supported; strategically, operationally and emotionally to ensure they can keep going.
Social workers have supervision to help them process their toughest cases, and corporate executives have space for “lessons learned” and continuous improvement between projects.
Yet school leaders remain endemically under-supported and so as a result, not only are the development needs of our leaders often neglected – many are also left without anyone to turn to when they are in need of support, clarity, guidance, or even just some encouragement to keep going.
That’s why I am now offering free “Coaching for The Soul” support calls for school leaders to ensure that no School Leader finds themselves in the same situation as I was as a School Leader.
This Free 30 minute call will provide you with a confidential, safe space where you can:
– Talk through the challenges you’re currently facing in your role
– Get support in locating next steps and solutions to help you overcome the issues you’re experiencing
– Explore what you want out of life as a School Leader
Places are limited – so if you are determined to take charge of your own well-being, book today to avoid disappointment.