“Wind of Change” is an evocative phrase which may conjure up in your mind anything from a gentle soothing breeze to a powerful destructive hurricane.
“The wind of change is blowing through this continent. Whether we like it or not …” Continue reading
There was a real sense of delight in Andrew Old (@oldandrewuk) blog post, just before Christmas, “A Christmas Miracle – Ofsted Get it Right for Once”
I hope I’m right in inferring from the various twitter conversations that Andrew has long been campaigning for appropriate recognition, within the Ofsted framework, of high quality lessons that are teacher led and more “traditional” in nature. I’ve read a number of his posts based on Ofsted reports promoting the alternative view.
The amendment seems eminently sensible but this is not simply about teachers talking more but how teachers can enhance students’ learning through strategies such as direct instruction and better mediate students’ understanding through high quality input and questioning.
I wondered about whether to write this post or not as there is the real danger of appearing as the pantomime villain. In no way do I want to denigrate the work that Andrew Old and other colleagues have done in securing the amendment within the Subsidiary Guidance but I simply don’t think Ofsted have got it right yet.
Why Have All These Different Grades?
The table below was produced from data presented at a recent ASCL Conference summarising the inspection of one in seven secondary schools for Summer Term 2013. This is a huge number of inspections and a very substantive database. Note the almost identical percentages for overall effectiveness, achievement and the quality of teaching, now taken as over time which effectively equates to examination results as a proxy for achievement.
The much more positive gradings for Behaviour & Safety have been met with the following response from Ofsted in the latest Subsidiary Guidance (highlighting obviously mine):
I read this quite simply as make sure the Behaviour & Safety grade is the same as the rest, Leadership & Management will surely follow. The one interesting thing for the future is that inspectors are now expected to comment separately on behaviour and safety with the lower grade dictating the overall grade for the section. For example, safeguarding is good but behaviour requires improvement produces a “requires improvement” grade overall.
You have to question why five different grades appear in the report, when in essence the Achievement grade drives the whole process and there is now going to be even greater alignment of grades than ever before.
Outcomes Nationally, Safeguarding Locally
This post is not an argument for no accountability, in an earlier post, Reflections of an Apprentice 2040 Visioner, I accepted that as an education system we had deserved Ofsted because we failed to accept fully our responsibilities for educating, to a sufficiently high standard, all young people. To mis-use a quote from Andy Hargreaves, the point at which we failed to accept our responsibilities as a profession was the point that Ofsted stepped in to hold us accountable. However, the perverse and now corrosive impact of Ofsted has long since stopped serving a purpose and a different Accountability framework is needed.
The new “Progress 8” measure in secondary schools and end of Key Stage 2 tests have the potential to spawn a whole new industry in “data dashboards”. Ofsted’s role should be limited to scrutiny of a school’s outcomes, which at a secondary level has already been given as: one grade above expectation in the Progress 8 measure meaning no inspection visit the following academic year and more than half a grade below expectation means prepare the room for the inspection team!
Safeguarding needs to be dealt with at a local level on an annual basis with a simple “effective safeguarding” or “not effective safeguarding” outcome. The latter would lead to a monitoring plan and on-going checks until safeguarding was judged effective.
Separate to the desktop exercise on Progress 8, we need regional teams, operating within a national framework, but separate from Ofsted composed of highly experienced and well regarded HMIs and Lay Inspectors who have two areas of responsibility:
I would like to nominate @MaryMyatt and @Heatherleatt – their blogs show an immense amount of common sense and balance – to lead on this but I’m biased.
A national minimum benchmark needs to be set about what is acceptable and the system needs to work to ensure all schools reach this standard within a five to ten year time period, at which time the bar can be raised. Genuine improvements in learning and standards need to be reflected in improved examination outcomes – no artificial raising, lowering or maintaining of pass rates. Remember the 100 metres hasn’t got shorter, people are just running it faster and the same can be true in education.
When Will Ofsted Get it Right?
Oftsed will get it right when they stop inspecting teaching, behaviour and leadership & management. What amounts to a total of three days in a primary school (two inspectors for one and a half days) or about seven in a large secondary school doesn’t provide sufficient evidence to make far reaching conclusions that can sometimes damn or laud a school inappropriately. The idea that inspections produce typical behaviour, from school leaders, teachers or students, just isn’t right and the snapshot is too blunt an instrument in terms of teaching and behaviour to continue to be used.
Issues of teaching and behaviour are for determination by schools not Ofsted. A school’s approach to these will impact on Achievement which should be monitored nationally and schools held accountable. Don’t forget students and parents will make judgements about the quality of teaching & behaviour in a school every day so there isn’t exactly a shortage of accountability on these issues.
My 2014 advice to Ofsted is simple, “Oftsed when you are in a hole, stop digging!” It’s time for a new approach.
If you want a slightly more light-hearted perspective on Ofsted why not try Auld Land Syne #Ofsted Style by @TeacherToolkit and make sure you listen to the irrepressible @RachelOrr in fine voice.
Tom Sherrington’s view of Ofsted I wholeheartedly agree with and you can read it as part of his post, Taking Stock of the Education Agenda: Part 2.
However, if you are expecting that call someday soon there are some Ofsted Resources here that you might find useful, that is, until the revolution comes, brothers and sisters.
I decided not to tweet out during this year’s SSAT as I would have probably filled up your time line. Instead I’ve put my thoughts and reflections into a post about #Vis2040 about where we may be going as a profession and as an education system.
The massive challenge of Vision 2040 is becoming more and more apparent to those of us who are engaging in it. It is almost impossible to predict, and maybe even imagine, the detail of education in 2040 but what is possible is to look and attempt to discern a direction of travel. It is more about identifying the main threads rather than seeing the whole picture in detail. One of the things I hope will change by 2040 is the clarity about the role and part to be played by central government, the newly emerging and much more diverse middle layer in education – academy chains, federations, multi-academy trusts, teaching school alliances, local authorities – and loose clusters of and individual schools.
Vision 2040 is an idea about how power may shift within the system, over the next twenty five years, what may stay the same so still be familiar ground to us in 2040 and what are the cul-de-sacs we are currently travelling along, leading no-where, that will require us to change direction.
Thanks to the people who presented especially Michael Fullan, Andy Hargreaves, Bill Lucas, Guy Claxton, Tim Oates and David Weston from whom I made the many random notes that this blog and my reflections are taken from.
The New Professionalism will require some reimaging, some movement and some consolidation as we move to becoming a true profession:
Teaching as Moral Purpose
This will be a primary focus for those working in education. High levels of equity are achieved through high attainment for all students particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds. Outcomes matter to young people and deeply affect their life chances. Young people matter to us teachers so outcomes matter to us because they give young people a belief in themselves and a passport to greater opportunities. This is familiar ground.
This moral purpose is advanced nationally as schools are judged purely on the value added measures with the system, system as a whole, judged on attainment measures. Schools in challenging circumstances can be considered good and outstanding as well as those in more privileged settings. Coasting is not allowed by students or schools; we need to eradicate it from the system both individually and collectively.
Ofsted in its current guise has long since gone. Ofsted is a cul-de-sac, it can’t take us any further and is now doing damage, we’ve hit the point of the sigmoid curve that means we need to change before decline begins. The main “control factor” has been built into the system early on- only the brightest, most talented and emotionally intelligent graduates are admitted to the profession. Support is provided for schools by schools, in a newly formed and diverse middle layer of education involving legally integrated schools at a governance level.
Teachers Possess a Body of Knowledge
The teaching profession has a body of knowledge that they “own” linked to curriculum, including assessment, and pedagogy.
The profession is seen as the recognised expert in these areas. The National Curriculum is considered a ridiculous concept. Society, via government, has defined an expansive, rich and inclusive view of the end point of education and what it means to be an educated person in the middle of the 21st Century. The knowledge – factual, conceptual, procedural and metacognitive – associated with becoming an educated person is trusted to the professionals – this is a power shift. The current knowledge versus skills debate is pointless it’s another is a cul-de-sac, it can’t take us any further and is now doing damage, we’ve hit the point of the sigmoid curve that means we need to change before decline begins.
Teachers as Researchers & Developers and Builders of Knowledge
The profession are laterally integrated with research and development and responsibility for growing the professional body of knowledge a core responsibility of all. Links with higher education institutions as part of Initial Teacher Training, early career development to a Masters level and on-going support and validation of research findings throughout a teacher’s career are expected and the norm.
Power Shifts to the Learners
The pervasive use of technology will extend the learning day well beyond the school day in a way that we currently don’t have. The opportunity to learn, not just consolidating and reinforcing learning during homework, but accessing and engaging with others in new learning is now a reality for many young people. We just haven’t really tapped into this as schools yet. Technology is the enabler but it is the student who will increasingly be able to co-construct their learning with teachers and others that will see the balancing of the power dynamic in a learner’s life.
Directions of Travel
Certain dichotomies have been lost from the debate. The most corrosive are currently knowledge versus skills, university versus school based training and development for teachers and accountability versus responsibility.
We are moving towards a system where teachers and schools will be more responsible for the quality of education in a self-improving school system. Schools will increasingly be formally and legally linked at a governance level that embodies “we are more powerful together than apart” and “your pain is my pain, your gain is my gain” thinking and acting. System leaders and chartered teachers operate within local families and clusters of schools who are responsible for “all our children”. When working in localities we are more easily able to define and relate to who are children are. Networks collaborate with networks to capture, share and use knowledge to improve practice.
I still believe that schools will be physical buildings. The socialisation and social care of children and young people should and will form part of what we expect from schools and the education system. Modelling the building of right, enriching relationships is an expectation of the system and the ability of young people to do this is a required outcome.
The best way to predict the future is to invent it – that’s the challenge for schools & teachers, that’s the challenge for the profession and that’s the challenge of Vision 2040
Final thanks to Sue Williamson and the SSAT for organising the conference and leading the debate.