The truth about Ofsted ‘Outstanding’

Keeping calm is important

We’ve just had Ofsted in and I was lucky enough to be awarded the ‘Outstanding’ badge after my lesson was observed for around 30 minutes. It was a middle set Year 11 group who I had taught three lessons to previously and hadn’t been involved with when they were Year 10. They’re a group with B/C FFT target grades, and achieved mostly B and C grades in their Year 10 exams.

How did I prepare? Well, I jotted a bit of plan (I say jotted, I was on the computer) into the school lesson plan template. Turned that into something a bit more substantial outlining the activities and the purpose of them. Wrote in some learning objectives; differentiated, of course. Wrote in three lines of context about the class, saying who was SEN/FSM and why people were sat the way they were. Printed that off and printed off a seating plan. Done. That was enough paperwork for me – did I really need any more? I certainly didn’t want to write anything extra, and I was pretty sure that any Ofsted inspector would be uninterested in reading 95% of it anyway.

How did I teach? The same as always really, just with a bit more paperwork. Ofsted told me that the reason my lesson was outstanding was because all the students were engaged and keen to be involved, my questioning was excellent and involved everyone, there was pace to my lesson, and the students were clearly working at or above their targets. I think my kids were helpful too, saying to the inspector things like “I love his lessons, he’s always as mad as this” and “I feel like I’m always learning in Physics, it’s one of my favourite lessons”.

What was interesting to note? I hadn’t done any marking (they had some peer marking of a homework) and I hadn’t written at length on a ‘Class Context Sheet’ about how Jimmy has had this kind of upbringing and Amy has struggled with this so the best strategy is this this and this, so I’ve tried this but that won’t work and this etc etc. Importantly, I didn’t stress myself out. Ofsted are not looking for some insane teacher who has every single little thing possible covered in every single detail. They want someone real, who when observed clearly has a passion for teaching and has their students glued to them; their students are desperate to learn. If you can nail that, that’s the important thing about teaching. Screw the bloody paperwork.

2 Replies to “The truth about Ofsted ‘Outstanding’”

  1. “…and the students were clearly working at or above their targets”

    They could really tell this? In 30 minutes?

  2. Well, quite! Therein lies the issue of subjectivity and making judgements from such a short time. You’ve got to take some of the feedback with a bit of a pinch of salt. The way that the inspector worded it was along the lines of “If anyone was to walk into the classroom, they would never have been able to determine that these students were targeted B/C grades”.

    As you say, though, actually discerning this in that time scale is questionable.

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