The following article, by Derek Blunt, was originally published in Digital Education in April 2014.
Derek Blunt finds Ofsted*-speak to be in need of improvement.
Very recently, the category of “Adequate” for independent school inspections was changed to “in need of improvement”. This brings independent inspections into line with those for maintained schools, where the “satisfactory” judgement was changed to “In need of improvement”.
In other words, “satisfactory” now means “unsatisfactory”, and “adequate” now means “inadequate”.
In this 1984-like landscape, where words change their meanings according to the latest “thinking” and conventional “wisdom”, anyone who tries to deliver an Ofsted-approved lesson is nuts. Even if you succeeded, the rules could change tomorrow, rendering your “Outstanding” lesson “Underwhelming”, or whatever new term someone decides to coin.
Here’s a case in point. Not that long ago, it was de rigueur to make sure every lesson had three parts: an introduction in which the teacher “shared” the learning objectives; the main part of the lesson; and a plenary. That is now recognised as a load of nonsense – and rightly so. A good teacher will ensure that there are many introductions, “main” lesson time and plenaries as necessary, according to the nature of the work itself, the main purpose of the lesson and the make-up of the class.
There is something quite immoral about trying to deliver an Ofsted-approved lesson anyway. The aim should be to ensure kids are taught properly, and thatthey learn, not to jump through some remote bureaucracy’s artificial hoops.
Use Ofsted criteria of “Outstanding” lessons by all means as a set of criteria, but I say use them as a sort of general reference, not a checklist.
Derek Blunt: Blunt by name, blunt by nature.
*Ofsted is the name of the schools inspectorate in England, but the same kind of considerations apply anywhere that a regulatory body attempts to dictate the HOW of lessons rather than simply evaluate the quality of the outcomes.