Posted by: mrlock | November 28, 2013

Could OFSTED be changing its expectations of teaching?

This is a bit of a comment and extension of Andrew Old’s post, which I reblogged earlier today.

I recently commented on some of the problems I have with OFSTED grading the Quality of Teaching during an inspection. I was thus pleasantly surprised to hear about an anecdote of OFSTED training that tended to emphasise what was being learnt ahead of a preferred method of teaching. This is exactly what Sir Michael Wilshaw has been saying for some time, but has not been borne out in inspections.

I reblogged Andrew Old’s post which contained this anecdote, and a colleague of mine at the same training offers the following thoughts:

“I have just completed four days of OFSTED training. As with many CPD sessions it ranged from dull in parts to very informative in others.

One of the key parts of the four days was a discussion amongst us participants regarding grading of one particular lesson. There were several we watched on the DVD and in the main there would be discussion as to whether a 1 to 2, 2-3 or 3 to 4 grade should be given. Not so in this particular lesson.

Over the years in teaching I have seen teachers developing strategies to deliver lessons in ‘episodes’ via 3 parts, 5 parts, 7, parts or whatever is fashionable at the time. AfL in its various forms constitute aspects of a good lesson as do a different range of teaching styles. Pupil progress is of course all important, including within the time the inspector is in the room. This is what we have been told to do to ensure a ‘good’ or above grade.

This one particular lesson had no elements of the above. Straight forward let’s say ‘chalk and talk’ for those old enough to remember what I mean. There was some AfL in the form of students putting thumbs up if they understood. The majority consistently gave the positive signal but I was not convinced it was enough for the teacher to move on at the brisk pace. There was little if any, other AfL. At some point the teacher did speak to pupils individually but I was of the view that I had not seen enough evidence to grade it as any more than a 3 or probably a 4. The OFSTED trainer said it was given a ‘good’. This was based on the very simple judgement that the pupils were making good rates of progress in the lesson and over time. When asked, the pupils all said that it was a normal lesson and they liked the teachers style.

It came as a surprise to many of us due to the dull, non-interactive nature of the lesson. The Inspector claimed the judgement was based on enough evidence to show good pupil progress and that is what they are looking for. They also agreed that it’s not what we would consider good teaching in the way that we have developed many strategies over the years, but it was the good rate of pupil progress that secured the judgement.

So do we still need to perform ‘all singing and all dancing lessons’ as we have been told in the past? It seems not according to this bit of training. Progress, progress, progress.

I would need to hear this from a few more Inspectors and feedback from other colleagues from recent Ofsted Inspections before I am convinced that reverting to chalk and talk is sufficient or indeed the way we want teaching to go.”

Here is that colleagues feedback notes:


His notes reflect the way we’ve been trained to think about teaching. That it should be more of a performance. He didn’t write very much in comparison to other observations.

He notes: “Regular checking with ‘thumbs up’ and giving answers” but then questions “any real opportunity for students to ask questions?”

He also states: “First part of lesson almost a test”

And yet the lesson was a “Good”.


I welcome this anecdote is it illustrates that OFSTED may move away from the promotion of ineffective “show” lessons. I maintain that I think one can judge students’ progress only really via examination results. Uncomfortable as I am with solely data leading the judgement on the quality of teaching in a school, I maintain that it seems fairer than what appears to be somewhat arbitrary judgements of individual lessons.



  1. […] story rather than a well rounded critique of OFSTED. My views on OFSTED are here, here and here. You can take whatever conclusions you wish about OFSTED from […]


  2. […] Could Ofsted be changing its expectations of teaching? […]


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