In the three very different schools at which I have been fortunate enough to be Head, I have endeavoured to follow my core values, ensuring that we focus on the essential ingredients of a successful school: a happy community, effective teaching and learning, success at all levels, and a host of enrichment activities.
But teaching is about more than values as we also need to be accountable - which means OFSTED and league tables. The goal posts have changed continually in my 11 years as a Head, and if at times it's challenging for me to be aware of the newly-amended criteria, how then are classroom teachers, governors and parents able to keep sight of this ever-changing landscape?
So, perfectly timed is the arrival of Jackie Beere's fantastic book -˜The Perfect OFSTED Inspection'.
As I write this, I await yet another full inspection within a tougher framework and more punitive gradings. Impending OFSTED inspections are not conducive to sleep-filled nights, but with Jackie's most readable book I am already reassured.
Three immediate salient points come from this book.
- It is an excellent -˜quick read' for everyone involved in schools, and offers an extremely factual summary of what OFSTED teams will focus on.
- It is full of practical hints and check lists. All staff, whether they be on leadership teams or in the classroom, will be able to take away immediate -˜to do' lists of action points, and there are some gems of advice.
- Most importantly, the book never loses sight of what we should be concentrating on in schools, namely, what goes on this the classroom. Reading this alongside Jackie's previous book -˜The Perfect OFSTED Lesson' makes complete sense and reminds us that an inspection should really be about learning, rather than jumping through another set of hoops.
Since reading this book in the last few weeks ago it has already helped me prepare my staff for potential OFSTED through whole school training, presentations and practical advice which will benefit and reassure staff.
Jackie's book is very much based on her wide-ranging experiences in schools and is empathetic in its approach. Her experience as a teacher, an AST, Headteacher, SIP and trainer are all evident. She has a passion for learning and a great belief in the potential of all students. A mere OFSTED inspection wouldn't alter that! Great stuff.