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My experience with Ofsted

On Monday 28th of February rumours were spreading fast around the school. Our Headteacher had invited all members of staff to an emergency meeting at lunchtime and that could only mean one thing: “They are coming, aren’t they?”. We all knew what was going to be happening for the next two days: and Ofsted inspection.

When I first heard the news, I felt like it was a very good moment for it. It is not the end of the year when you run out of things to teach or at the end of a half term or term when you are exhausted. It was our first day back from the February half term and I felt energetic and ready for it, in fact, I was actually looking forward to it. Before they told us they were coming we were all expecting a visit and everything was Ofsted here and Ofsted there, so maybe after their visit we could finally relax a little. I don’t mean that we would do things any differently but that constant threat of an inspection would be gone, hopefully for a couple of years at least.

At our lunch time meeting we were told where the deep dives where going to take place and MFL was going to be involved in one of them. We didn’t know that much at that point, only that they would come at about 8:50 am and will leave the school no later than 6 pm. However by the end of the day, we already had some information about what classes they wanted to see the next day, although with them nothing is never guaranteed so we were told it could or could not happen. I am a very lucky person (note the irony…) so I was told I was going to be seen twice the next day. The first visit would be with my mixed ability Year 8 Spanish group (P1) and the second visit with Year 7 Spanish (P2). Just to put you into context, lessons at my school are 100 minutes long, therefore we only have three periods. This meant most of my day was going to be affected…😱

I can honestly say I didn’t take this as a bad thing. I was actually excited to show them how good our department is, how hard we work and how creative we can be. Even though my lessons were prepared for the next day, I spent quite a bit of time that evening trying to make them look amazing.

The next day you could sense the nerves in the school, it was actually quite interesting to watch. Everyone (including me) was running around like headless chickens. Making sure all photocopies are done, all seating plans prepared, making sure technology worked ok in our rooms (a technical problem is the last thing you need!), etc. To be honest, they didn’t ask for a lot of things: they only wanted a seating plan, a copy of our markbook and a context sheet explaining briefly what our groups were like, which didn’t take long to put together. They also wanted to know who our PP students were, so I marked them in the seating plan. I put everything in a folder for them and I added a copy of my Power Point as well although they didn’t ask us to do that.

P1 starts. I’m nervous and my hands are a bit sweaty but I know once the lesson starts I’ll be fine. It’s what I do every day so this was no different. I was probably 50 minutes into my first lesson when I saw the inspector coming to my room. We were in the middle of a listening activity. Students were filling in a table about people going to different places in a town. By the time the listening was done and marked the inspector was gone (he didn’t even take the folder I prepared for him!!!). He must have been in the room between 5 to 10 minutes... it was my first Ofsted inspection so I just thought… is this normal??? After the lesson I found out that it had been the same for other teachers in my department, which made me feel a bit better.

Now it’s P2. This time I had the inspector coming right at the beginning and I was introducing some vocab about family with Year 7. I was actually asking them to do a lot of reading out loud. I thought this was a good thing since the new GCSE exam seems to have a similar activity and our current Year 7 will be the first ones to take the new tests. But again, after about 6 or 7 minutes he disappeared. Poof… be gone!

Shortly after he pulled out a couple of students from my group to have a chat with them. He probably spent about 20 minutes with them. I asked the students what they asked and the questions were more about behaviour and bullying than anything else. They also were asked if they liked the lessons, not sure if anything else MFL related, they didn’t really give me many details!

At this point I knew I could breath again, I had done my bit and unless they came to my lessons by surprise, I could relax a little. We were told to meet with them at the end of the day and I was looking forward to hear what they had to say…

…but to be honest they didn’t say a lot! They didn’t give us any personal feedback. I was told by a friend that they only do that if they are in your lessons for 20 minutes or longer, which explains why he stayed such a short time. However he did say a few interesting things:

• First he mentioned that he really liked to see people doing listening activities. He thought that this was a dead practice in a lot of schools so he was happy to see that we were still doing it. • Then he mentioned that we were not doing a lot of speaking activities or using much target language. He then went on and on about how important it is that we use TL in MFL and that if we don’t we are depriving students from that opportunity. To be fair to him he also acknowledged that this could have been coincidental as he didn’t stay very long in our lessons.

I probably have to agree with him on the use of TL. I personally should use it more and I can’t really explain why but as a native speaker I find it really hard to use it in my lessons sometimes. However I disagree with the lack of speaking activities. If he had stayed longer he would have seen a lot of that not only in my lessons but in most of my colleagues’s lessons too.

I have to say that the inspector seemed like a really nice guy. He came in with a smile and saying “Hola!” and his attitude made me feel calmer and more confident. A smile can make everything better!

After his impression about our lessons, we were asked a few general questions about the school, here are a few I can remember:

- How do you share resources as a team?

- How do you make sure everyone is following the SOWs. - What is Safeguarding like and how do you keep up to date with the latest changes. - How is you workload. - What is behaviour like in the school.

He made some notes of our answers and off he went. After he disappeared we honestly didn’t know if that had been positive or negative. However, we came to the conclusion that if not using a lot of TL is the worst thing he could say… it can’t be that bad? In my honest opinion, I felt that he didn’t stay long enough in our lessons to make a good judgement of our practice. It was supposed to be a deep dive and I felt that with such short observations you don’t get a very good insight of how good we are and how hard we work.

The next day they focused on SEND students and spent their day talking to different students and looking at their books. Our deep dive was done and we could just breath and celebrate that this was over!

We don’t know our results yet but I will keep you posted. My advice to anyone having an Ofsted inspection is to be yourself. Do what you do the rest of the year. Don’t try new things but above all be calm…

I hope you found this post useful. If you have any questions I would be happy to answer your comments!

Bye for now! 👋

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