Revelations

 

I’m not going to lie. It’s been a hell of a year.

Ofsted broke my heart.

I cried.

I ranted.

I blogged.

I fought.

It took three months for the inspection to materialise into a final published report. Many inaccuracies of the draft report were changed but the tone of the report had become damning and cruel.

For a while I considered packing it in. Over three years I had given everything to that school. I believed I had made a difference. I believed that it was a better place than it was when I first arrived.

I was obviously wrong.

I turned to others for help. I got it. Little by little I began to regain shreds of self-belief. Shards of evidence that suggested I wasn’t off my nut and that I did, despite the report, know what I was doing.

I kept my chin up, you know, for the kids. But deep down I still felt it. I mean, how many RIs have I got left? Better jump than be pushed. But then again, what does a failed Head do?

After a while people said – move on. It was like when somebody dies in a soap. Three episodes later and everyone’s forgotten about them. Well, I was still mourning the loss of my ‘good’ Ofsted. I couldn’t move on.

I complained.

My complaint came back. Many points had been upheld. Victory! Some hadn’t. And I’m a teacher at heart, so, of course, I focussed on those bits.

Then people began to say: seriously, move on.

And I did.

I went to a conference. I got some ideas. I worked with some inspirational people. I threw a few ideas around with my Deputy. Pretty soon I was feeling the spark. That moment when you think you’ve hit upon something big. My SDP was starting to take shape.

Momentum gathered.

Every now and then I would stop and realise that I hadn’t thought about Ofsted for days.

On 7th July the results came out.

O M G!

Well whadda y’know?

We did really well. We got the results a certain inspector said we never would.

Victory!

Then I started to think that it wasn’t fair. What is the point of results if you don’t have a good Ofsted to go with it?

Then three things were said to me at the school summer fair.

  1. The ex-governor: When I saw that every disadvantaged pupil had made a level 4 I thought, that’s it, we’ve done it. We’ve closed that gap. We’ve made a difference. I was so proud. Well done, everyone!
  2. The parent: Isn’t there something parents could do to tell Ofsted that they’ve just got it wrong? This is a great school.
  3. The Year 6 pupil: Thank you for being a Head that didn’t leave us straight away.

Those three statements hit me like a cliché hitting me really hard.

I was reminded about what is important.

  1. Helping those children who need it the most is important.
  2. Enabling parents to support their local school is important.
  3. Leaders that stick around are important.

I realised why I had begun to be excited in the preceding weeks. Because in September I’m going to help secure those three very important things. Not for Ofsted, but for us. I’m going to work with my team and help the school get better and better at doing the right thing and we’re going to measure it ourselves using the right instruments.

Ofsted can choose to see what they like but I’m not doing it for them.

I’m over it.

I’m in love with my job again.

It’s going to be a hell of a year.

6 thoughts on “Revelations

  1. Lyn T July 13, 2015 / 6:53 pm

    I’ve just been through a very similar experience but I know we’ve made a difference – not in numbers as the inspector would have liked but in lives & families. Unfortunately I won’t have the chance to see it through next year. I’m retiring in 7 days – what a way to end a career. Rubbish!

    • theprimaryhead July 13, 2015 / 6:57 pm

      An Ofsted judgement is but a single measurement at a point in time. The impact you’ve had over your career is far more long lasting and meaningful. (I know that sounds terribly corny but it’s true) Retire with pride.

    • TruPRU July 13, 2015 / 7:54 pm

      Lynn I hope that when the dust settles you will remember warmly all those families for whom you have made a difference – enabled better futures – because that’s the true driver of a good teacher. As I told my LI last month ‘no little girl grows up wanting to be a teacher because of the satisfaction of pleasing an inspector’. Enjoy your well-earned retirement.

  2. Michael Tidd July 13, 2015 / 7:41 pm

    Never underestimate the importance of number 3.

  3. Lucy November 5, 2015 / 5:10 pm

    Just before half term we had our Ofsted inspection. From my perspective the day couldn’t have gone any better: The day went remarkably well, the children were happy and engaged and the staff worked hard and kept calm throughout the day. We even had a delightful presentation from a child’s older sister about their pet dog during assembly!
    Whilst we will not get the official report for two weeks it became clear that the inspector took issue with our methodology, namely the structure of our session in which children carousel around the setting into each of the different learning areas. The structure of the sessions is a defining feature of our nursery school and is what enables our children to excel and have a well rounded nursery experience. It is what attracts the majority of our parents and what sets us apart from all other nurseries in the local area. Whilst we incorporate a balance of child led and adult directed activities we do not subscribe to the current trend of giving children absolute freedom to roam( aka free flow) at will as we do not believe this is in their best interests. The structure ensures that our children are able to make a smooth and successful transition to primary school and this is evidenced by positive feedback from both parents and headteachers from the private and state sector.

    Another issue which arose concerned how we observe and assess the children’s progress. I told the inspector that our priority when children join us is to help them settle quickly and form secure relationships with staff and their peers. This was in conflict with the inspectors apparent obsession with the need to formally assess the children in the first two weeks they join the setting which I refuse to do. Meaningful relationships with teachers is the key to successful learning and I am not prepared to jeopardise this even if it means I do not tick all the inspectors boxes.

    Since our last Ofsted inspection in 2010/11 (where we were graded outstanding) our nursery has significantly improved in terms of the quality of teaching, facilities and resources available to both children and parents. However, we have been downgraded to a “good” rating, which in my view says more about the quality of the inspection process rather than the quality of our nursery provision.

    I have run my nursery since 1985, I at the moment I feel I have been punched in the face! Still I am gradually getting over it and I am determined not to let this in any way tempt me to jump through Ofsted’s hoops. I don’t rate their outstanding badge anymore.

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