Ofsted Annual Report

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Below are some of the key findings of the report released last week.

A young man looking through a magnifying glass

No-notice inspections: From January, inspectors will make no-notice visits to schools where behaviour has been identified as a particular concern. Inspectors will also focus more on culture and behaviour when inspecting schools in the coming year.

Call for more external testing: Wilshaw would like to see the government reintroduce external testing at the end of key stage 1 and at key stage 3.

In his speech he said that in primary schools the highest proportion of good teachers were seen in year 6. He believes that if formal testing was reintroduced there would be a better distribution of staff across schools. He highlighted that one of the best European performers in the Pisa rankings was Poland, which has introduced more national testing.

He said: “Talk to any good headteacher and they will tell you it was a mistake to abolish those tests. If we are serious about raising standards and catching up with the best in the world, we need to know how pupils are doing at seven, 11, 14 and 16.” I am not sure my colleagues would agree!

Ways to improve English lessons: One suggestion was that pupils should be encouraged to read for pleasure more. The report said some schools were distracted by national tests, which do not always assess pupils’ wider reading skills well.

Too little time to complete writing tasks and opportunities for extended writing were marked as features of English lessons that needed improvement. Classes also needed to focus more on creative tasks and show pupils the practical benefits of what they learn, such as how poetry contributes to their emotional development.

Signs of a good leader: The report said the most successful leaders created an open and constructively challenging climate in their school, which encouraged teachers to be honest about the areas they needed to improve. It also said that teachers in these high performing schools were motivated to improve because pay, other rewards and promotion were linked to the quality of their teaching.

Common misconceptions about good teaching: A belief that the faster the lesson, the better the learning was a frequent misconception of good teaching. The report said that although pace is important, as pupils may lose concentration in a slow lesson, teachers concentrate too often on the pace of the activity rather than the amount of learning.

Lessons that cram too many activities into a session were also criticised, as pupils often do not complete tasks and learning is not consolidated or extended.

Leaders should take part in inspections: Gaining an insight into how other schools work and a better understanding of the inspection process were among the benefits mentioned by school leaders who took part in Ofsted inspections. They also said that it helped them develop their teacher assessment skills and identify areas for improvement.

Features of poor maths teaching: Too often maths teachers focused on the how without addressing the why the report said. In weak maths lessons teachers typically demonstrated a standard method and gave tips on how to avoid making mistakes, which did little to strengthen pupils’ understanding of the topic and meant they didn’t have a secure foundation on which to build new learning.

Best practice needs to be shared across the country more: “We need to ensure that more of our best teachers and school leaders are incentivised to go to the areas that need them most,” said Wilshaw. He believes that the government should urgently consider the idea of introducing National Service Teachers to support “mediocre” schools.

He said: “We must improve the way we nurture the leaders of tomorrow. If blue-chip firms like Marks and Spencer and BP can identify, train and support promising candidates over several years, why can’t we do the same in our education system?”

Holding academies to account: To ensure that those responsible for the many academies in multi-academy trusts are held to account, Wilshaw said Ofsted will conduct focused inspections on the schools in the weaker academy chains.

Official Report

Ofsted Annual Report 201213 Schools

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One comment

  1. The English Department agree that reading for pleasure would be of great benefit to all.
    We are currently at the beginning of a plan that sees our more able pupil premium students given the opportunity to select their very own novel from Waterstones. The first group went to the bookshop, last week. Our hope is that we can begin a lifelong love of books that will serve the students well at Harrow Way and long after they have moved on.

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