Continuing Professional Development (CPD) and in particular INSET Days can vary from the brilliant to the awful and often somewhere in between. The problem often lies in them: being standalone one off events; lacking a clarity in terms of the outcomes for either teachers or pupils and them being on totally the wrong thing, something for which there is limited or counter-evidence on the theme/focus having a positive impact on pupils’ learning. Continue reading
You may think it is with a certain sense of irony that @LeadingLearner and @TeacherToolkit have produced the #5MinWellBeingPlan. However, like many people working in education we need to get our lives back in some sort of order and balance. The “#GuiltyTeacher. Guilty as Charged! By @TeacherToolkit” post certainly struck a chord, with many teachers and support staff, about how we live our lives.
In schools we squash the equivalent of a full working year, and often more, into just thirty nine weeks. People outside of education see the “long holidays” but don’t often see the extended and sometimes gruelling hours we work during term time. Ask the partner of a teacher about evening and weekends during term time and they will tell a story of almost continuous work with not enough time for nights out or a bit of fun until the next holiday comes along.
It’s time to launch the #5MinWellBeingPlan:
In recent years a number of schools have taken a lead on developing approaches to staff well-being. Whether you work in one of those schools or not there is a lot you can do for yourself.
The Well-Being Millionaire
Try to decide and plan how you will spend your time each week. If you’re not careful work can expand to fit every waking hour. The “To Do List” will never be done and it helps if you accept this. What time will be for school work and what time will not? Try to have fixed times each week where you close the school bag and think about things other than work. When might you give yourself a little treat each week?
Phone a Friend
Keep in touch with people who are nearest and dearest to you. It’s easy to keep putting off that phone call, text, skype session or letter whilst you just get the next job done. Who do you want to stay in touch with on a regular basis and who have you not made contact with in ages?
Ask the Audience
Family & friends can all too easily be forgotten, in particular, your partner can be someone who spends her/his life waiting for the next school holiday, just to get some of your attention. Why not plan a meal or night out, trip to the theatre or cinema etc. with family and friends. The break will do you good and you might even enjoy it.
It is sometimes a really great idea to book a weekend away in the middle of a half term. Three or four weeks in, a mini-break with a loved one can give you the boost you need to make it through the half term with a smile on your face. Try somewhere local – it reduces down on the travel hassles and means you can just book in for one night which keeps the cost down
Exercise is not only good for our bodies it is good for our minds. Exercise makes you feel happier alongside doing great things for your heart, general muscle tone and helping you remain/become a healthy weight. How and when are you going to exercise each week? You need to look after your body as it is the only one you’ll get.
We hopefully all know about 5 a day. There is a danger, when you are continually on the go, that you skip the odd meal or replace it with cakes & biscuits, snatched in a quick break. Do you ever find yourself lying awake at night on a “caffeine high” only to repeat the dose the following day because you feel tired? Think about you diet and pick one thing that you need to start or stop doing. Write it down and commit to making that change.
Excessive alcohol, being overweight, stress, lack of sleep are all things that we know make us unwell. If we don’t deal with these issue early then you will become unwell. Not good for you, not good for your family and friends and not good for your students. Be honest with yourself – do you have any risk factors? What are you going to do about them?
It’s an odd thing but helping others makes us feel better. Now that’s a “win-win”. There are so many ways to help but here are a few – take part in a sponsored walk/swim/run (also ticks the exercise box), go to a charity event, give some time up one evening or at the weekend to help a local charity (a change is as good as a rest), organise a charity event with your form, secretly surprise a colleague with a random act of kindness, take part in a Secret Santa … the list goes on. What would you like to do to make a difference to someone else’s life?
It’s Good to Chat
There are times when we need to talk through challenges or stresses that we are feeling. On occasion we want people to help us solve the problem and other times we just want someone to listen. It can also help us find a solution when we just verbalise the issues to someone. What do you need to chat about and who would be a good person to chat with. You may want to work with someone on a regular basis in a reciprocal arrangement. Good friends and good work colleagues can both make effective coaches.
Put Your Worries in a Box
There are some times when the job just simply gets too busy. There are other times we worry about things we can’t actually do very much about. Time to put your worries in a box. Make a list of your worries – this is to stop you worrying about forgetting them – write them down and put them in a box. If you are a bit OCD, why not put them in date order! Periodically get the box down and look at your list of worries – can you now throw it away? Deal with it? Put it back in the box for another day?
Every now and then you do need to simply stop and reflect on how life is going. Are you walking in the direction of your dreams, doing things that are important to you? Are you in a velvet lined rut or maybe one that is a little less comfortable?
What is giving you joy and what do you need to change?
Let’s remember that we are human beings not human doings! It’s sometimes said that when we look back at our lives it will not be the jobs left undone that we regret but rather the relationships that are broken or the time we didn’t spend with loved ones.
The job needs to get done but we are more likely to achieve it if we look after our own well-being. Time to stop, time to refill the reservoir!
An example of the #5MinWellBeingPlan is below:
A copy of the #5MinWellBeingPlan is here: #5MinWellBeingPlan (PDF)
The plan was originally done in PowerPoint and can be edited or typed into: #5MinWellBeingPlan v1 (PowerPoint version)
Feel free to tweet us a copy of your #5MinWellBeingPlan and we will look to retweet a number of them.
It’s just after midday, the phone rings and your sixth sense twitches. You’ve guessed right; an inspector calls.
Hopefully you are already well organised with the #5MinOfstedPlan by @LeadingLearner and @TeacherToolkit but the next few hours, whilst not determining the actual outcome of the inspection, will be critical in ensuring a smooth inspection.
We hope the #5MinCallPlan may just help edge things to a more favourable outcome for the school.
A successful inspection is a team approach. Decide in advance which members of staff need to form part of the core team with responsibility for co-ordinating arrangements for the inspection. Think about where and when they will meet. For example, you may want a meeting as soon as possible after the call is received – the call from the inspector often seems to come just after midday Monday to Wednesday – so this could be at lunchtime, followed by a meeting after school and also at the end of the first day to gather information and possibly the morning of the second day. The Core Team are responsible for pulling together and implementing your #5MinCallPlan.
Some thought needs giving to the best way to inform staff and students. For example it might be most efficient to send an e-mail to all staff, however, this may also come as quite a shock to them. If staff know in advance that an e-mail will be sent then this could help reduce the impact. Alternatively, calling staff together in the staff room to notify them at lunch time is a more personal way to receive the news and staff will be able to give each other a bit of support.
Briefing students so they know what to expect and be at their best is really useful. Many students have a real affinity for their school and will want to raise their game for the inspection days. In a small school an individual class briefing by a senior leader is possible, alternatively, holding an Ofsted Assembly for the last twenty minutes of the school day may be more convenient. Decision must be made in advance so staff and students know what procedures will be put into place.
Letters need to be handed out to parents about the inspection including information about the Parent View website and these can also be put onto the website.
There are a number of people who need contacting about the inspection including: Chair of Governors/Directors, local authority or Diocese (or other trustees possibly). This is a simple administrative task that can be sorted quickly by an efficient PA or secretary who can have an e-mail group or list of telephone numbers to call as soon as the call has come in. Don’t forget some of these people will also be required to meet inspectors.
Diary & Events
This will be an important decision about what you will allow to go ahead in terms of activities, whether there are training courses that will have to be cancelled and possibly appointments that can be rearranged. It’s going to be a pretty stressful couple of days and managing staff and students carefully will help ease the pressures. A good question might be, “Will this activity or event help support a positive inspection outcome or not”. A lot of lessons being covered, given the focus on observing lessons during an inspection, may be counter-productive. Make decisions and record them along with the name of person who will be auctioning them.
Inspectors will want to meet, in the next few days, with:
Think about what meetings might be requested, who will be in them, where they can be held and any last minute briefings. Remember to give this responsibility to a named person.
The stress levels almost inevitably start rising and can sometimes go through the roof as the inspection process starts and then escalates. Our experience of Ofsted Inspections is that it can bring a staff together against the “common enemy” and staff teams are often at their best in the face of adversity.
There are two dimensions to think about:
Ofsted Hymn Sheet & Staff Meeting
Some schools will prepare a last minute briefing sheet for staff – keep it concise and only include key issues to focus on. For example, “make sure you know the data for your classes” – targets, current attainment, G&T, SEN, Pupil Premium students etc. A few bullet points related to the great work you have been doing on pedagogy can be prepared in advance – nothing new or glitzy it’s too late for that.
Staff might want to come together at the end of the day for a short briefing, to ask some questions and support each other. So a meeting time and place should be arranged. Be sensitive to staff who already have other commitments and can’t make it. Keep the briefing brief – the main focus now is on getting the lessons and learning right and trying to get a bit of sleep.
In #5MinOfstedPlan by @LeadingLearner and @TeacherToolkit there are a number of key documents that need to already be collated in readiness to send to the lead inspector. There are some that will need to be at hand the following day for scrutiny, these include:
Domestic Arrangements for Inspectors
Whilst some inspection teams make easy guests and others are less welcomed or badly behaved it is important to have a professional approach to these visitors to your school. Car parking arranged for them can be helpful as well as WiFi access. There will need to be a room organised and cleaned with arrangements made for tea, coffee and meals. You might want to think about a meet and greet team – be warned inspectors tend to arrive early. A lead inspector wandering into and all over the school first thing doesn’t do your safeguarding rating a great deal of good. Equally you might consider it an appropriate way to welcome visitors to your school.
Feedback including Staff & Students
Senior staff, governors or trustees, the local authority and Diocese, if you are a faith school, will all be invited to the feedback by the inspectors. Who will communicate these arrangement? At the feedback often two different senior leaders are tasked with making notes on each section and one given the task of writing them up. This will be a useful aide memoir in the days ahead.
However, the staff and the students will also be desperate to know how things have gone. This is a careful balancing act as the outcomes of the inspection will need to be moderated prior to being made public so you will need to think carefully about what is said. Plan a time to give feedback to the staff pretty soon after the inspection finishes. Students are often happy to be given a genuine thank you, for all their support and great work during the inspection, and an idea when the inspection report is released. At St. Mary’s Catholic College all students received a Mars bar along with the last inspection report. We considered this part of our healthy eating programme as they weren’t deep fried!
Staff Celebrations & Party
At the end of the inspection process many staff will want to come together for support and hopefully to celebrate a good or possibly outstanding couple of days. This is an important part of being a community. Give one person the lead for this – it is a job that possibly a support member of staff would happily take the lead on and do exceptionally well. It may be you celebrate with a cup of tea or coffee and cakes at the end of the day. You may organise to go out for a drink a bit later on or organise a more formal celebration a week or two later once the report has been released. Or why not all three – the staff deserve it.
Here’s an early version of the #5MinCallPlan completed in five minutes:
We hope you find the #5MinCallPlan useful if you are preparing for an Ofsted visit.
#5MinInspectorCallsPlan v1.3 (PowerPoint)
Don’t be caught out at the last minute, time to plan for success. Good luck.
Please leave any feedback below as we will adapt and update the plan in the light of your comments.