As stupid bits of advice go, saying ‘Don’t panic! Don’t worry! Embrace it!’ to a teacher about to face the ordeal that is an Ofsted inspection, is off the scale!
Of course, you are instantly going to be thrown into panic mode as soon as the email to all staff is sent to notify everyone that ‘the call’ has been received. Of course, you are going to worry!
But… and this is a BIG but… although embracing, even enjoying, the experience is not all that realistic, an inspection should be all about you going out there and doing what you do… and doing it well.
Lay the groundwork
Middle and senior leaders look at the prospect of an Ofsted inspection from a different perspective and have other challenges and pressures to face. However, if the SLT has laid the foundations successfully and you, as a classroom teacher, have done the groundwork too – half the battle is won, even before the inspectors walk through the door.
You should always be ‘Ofsted inspection ready’ as a classroom teacher. The culture of scrutiny that most schools in the country have – rightly or wrongly – prepares you for this. With learning walks, the next work scrutiny or formal observations never that far away for most teachers, you should be pretty well prepared at any time throughout the year.
Only worry about what you can affect
Generally speaking, the most stressed members of staff at inspection time are the school’s senior leaders. Many headteachers take on the appearance of a gibbering nervous wreck from the moment they put down the receiver at the end of the dreaded call!
However, as a subject teacher, you are only playing a part in the whole process. It is an important part, of course – but there is only so much you can do. You should only focus on what you personally can impact on.
There is a collective responsibility that all staff have. You should be seen to be clearly following and supporting whole-school systems, such as the behaviour policy.
Otherwise, just focus on your main responsibility – teaching!
Most teachers fully understand what to expect from an Ofsted inspection. After all, it is usually drilled into them by the school’s SLT throughout the year! However, it does absolutely no harm to know what the most up-to-date Ofsted inspection guidance is. It will reassure you rather than panic you, hopefully.
Again, this comes straight from the ‘How do you expect any teacher to be able to do this under the circumstances?’ canon of advice given to teachers! However, you should just try and do what you usually do.
It isn’t quite the same. It isn’t just a normal day when Ofsted inspectors are in town, but you should never do something that you’ve never done before just because your school is being inspected.
The pupils will smell a rat if you suddenly try and transform into something you really aren’t – be confident in your own professionalism and ability. Be yourself.