Schools are increasingly defined by their Ofsted grade, headteachers are dismissed when schools go into special measures, parents and students feel let down; indeed, the whole community can be affected.
No wonder schools await their inspection with a degree of trepidation!
Ofsted grade schools as Outstanding, Good, Requires Improvement or Inadequate.
The Requires Improvement judgement replaced the Satisfactory judgement as, quite rightly, all schools should be aiming to provide a good education for their pupils.
The Market Weighton School had been judged as Requires Improvement in 2014, examination results improved that year but dipped in 2015.
School improvement is a journey – it takes time to make lasting changes and examination results can go up and down from year to year.
The Market Weighton School was inspected for two days from 17th May.
Ofsted judge schools on four areas but the students’ examination results set the agenda; a good set of results generally means ‘good teaching and leadership’ and when results dip the reverse is the expected outcome.
As a headteacher you have to make an assessment of the school performance and clearly want to put the school in the best possible position.
At the same time you are well aware of the weaknesses of your school and where improvements are required.
It is important that the leadership team can identify these areas to the inspectors.
The Ofsted team ensured that I was fully involved throughout the two days which allowed me to see exactly how they came about their judgements.
One improvement Ofsted made a few years ago was to invite the headteacher to sit in on their meetings at the end of each day in which the evidence is discussed and judgements made. Ofsted now look for more evidence of the quality of teaching over time by looking in students’ books and asking them questions about their learning.
Teachers work incredibly hard to get the school the best possible grade but increasingly the long-term outcomes determine the judgements which is a good thing as that is what will make a difference.
The whole process is one of mixed emotions; pride in hearing of a teacher delivering an outstanding lesson or a student who explained how well they feel supported in school, disappointment when students have not been challenged in a lesson or behaviour has not been as good as it should be.
Two days on an emotional rollercoaster with little sleep, time to eat or think about anything else. Being judged as Requires Improvement is clearly disappointing as we believe there is much about the school which is good.
But we do need to improve; we need to ensure our GCSE results are improved, not just for one year but every year and teaching needs to be at least good in all subjects.
Learning should never be disrupted by poor behaviour and we should have a school free from bullying.
We now have a report which supports the changes we are introducing and so will help us to improve as we continue on our journey to good. We have had several weeks to begin to respond to the report and have already taken positive steps forward.
We are almost at the end of the GCSE exam period and remain confident about results this summer.
We are working with East Riding of Yorkshire Council and other partners to ensure we get the best possible support for our teachers.
Parents can be assured that we will make all the improvements Ofsted have identified.