Three Things About Ofsted

I do sometimes get the urge to write about other things but…Ofsted does stir the emotions!

  1. The best thing about Ofsted is that, regardless of the outcome, people generally come together and support each other. I know that at some schools it’s dog-eat-dog but whenever I’ve been involved in a visit the glow of being part of a team inspires in its immediate burning and isn’t something that fades with any immediacy. Beyond the staff, the messages of encouragement ¬†from parents, governors, ex-colleagues, friends, other schools, my children’s teachers, and family are all so important and must be remembered weeks down the line when you’re feeling sad, alone and despondent. They mean an enormous amount.
  2. This was probably the ‘best’ Ofsted I’ve ever experienced. From the off it felt like the inspectors were on our side and the stress during the visit was much less than in previous years. Gone was the confrontational nit-picking and in its place a seemingly genuine desire to highlight our strengths and give us constructive pointers for the future. It’s not a perfect regime by any means and I’m sure that if our school had previously been less than ‘Good’ it might have been a different experience, but if this is what the new inspection regime is like across the board, then well done Ofsted.
  3. Better than previous inspections it may have been, but the words “I’ve just received a phone call…”, with the characteristic trail off of voice and the apologetic expression, still causes the stomach to churn and the butterflies to swirl. You still find yourself analysing minutiae to cover all bases (I found myself rearranging my bathroom at home, on autopilot, because the inspectors might mark us down for my stepson’s hair dye being left within reach of the children!) and there’s still an empty feeling as you eventually lay your head on the pillow the night before. And then there’s the feeling of being an underdog in the cup final, and for me at least the massive loss of appetite and the extra nausea that that causes when still more questions are asked and more demands made . When it’s over there is relief even before you know the verdict, because what is done is done and it’s over for now. All you can do is wait, and feel somehow hollow. Better than previous inspections it may have been, but I’m still glad I’ve not got to go through that again for a while.

As is the way of Ofsted I don’t know how my school did in our inspection last week. I still think that that’s rotten, but so be it. It’s over for now.

Charlotte Mason by Frederic Yates 1902 (c) The Armitt Museum and Library; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation