It’s not where we have been but where we are going: #Ofsted P.S. – Who keeps moving my cheese?

A dam fine blog!

maryisherwood

‘The biggest problem facing schools is fragmentation and overload’ Michael Fullan

There are a few things we know about change: Change is inevitable. Change can be good, but change is difficult – really really difficult. Yet here we are, once again in schools facing many huge changes including new National Curriculum, abolition of assessment levels, SEN reforms to name a few. All huge in their own right but when they come at us altogether……..

Someone keeps moving the cheese!!!

In this context, a time of huge change with still a number of uncertainties, everyone in schools, regardless of role and responsibilities, can feel very vulnerable. So enter Ofsted into the mix with the very varied and frequently very difficult inspection experiences that colleagues including myself have faced ( or in some cases still facing), it is not a surprise that people have many questions to ask!

The opportunity came about…

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Schools shape the character of the nation

Excellent and powerful!

jordyjax

Mid – meeting Michael Cladingbowl made this powerful statement with possible attribution to Benjamin Franklin. On arriving home I attempted to clarify this but sadly it was inconclusive. I did however find this:

In the “Times of India” 31.1.2010 Dr Ved Prakash Mishra said…”the destiny of any country is shaped in the classroom”.. which is pretty close. He then went on to say

” schools are real breeding grounds for the students which shape their future and hence a teacher should try to inculcate courage, conviction and character in the students ”

Michael was talking here about the kind of future he wished for his own children ……for them to be happy and live full lives and enjoy learning. Yes there are arguments which say we have to endure boredom but he put a definite emphasis on them ‘enjoying’ their time in school. Happily this view was shared by all…

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Meeting with @mcladingbowl, National Director, Inspection Reform, Ofsted.

This is fab from Cherryl!

cherrylkd

On Friday 29th August I went to Manchester to meet with Mike Cladingbowl from Ofsted. Earlier this year I attended a meeting with the DfE so I was pleased to be able to attend this meeting. I feel as though I’ve managed to put my opinions across re education now. 

I was accompanied by a fabulous gang of fellow tweeters, in no particular order they were @Mishwood1, @LeadingLearner, @chrismcd53, @jordyjax, @debrakidd, @rosederbyshire and @thought_weavers. 

I can’t mention everything we discussed or the blog would be 10 pages long so I’ll pick out the parts I was the most interested in. In particular I will omit the discussion on PRUs as @jordyjax will blog about that. I bow to her expertise in that area. 

Firstly I would like to thank Mike for giving us 3 hours of his undivided attention. He made us feel that our opinions were important to him…

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Meeting Mike Cladingbowl – or OFSTED, my part in its re shaping – or how turnip for a meeting late…

A few thoughts after our meeting, we all went into to the hour and a half meeting with questions to ask and left three hours later with them answered – well, except one.
Mike Cladingbowl is a teacher – he talks like a teacher and thinks like a teacher – he is also quite prepared to say if something is bollocks and did. (The “fact” that OFSTED defined expected progress.)

The discussion was good and had the meeting room not been needed it may have carried on longer. (I enjoyed listening to all around the table)

The title of this post is my attempt at irony by the way and it refers to the fact that Twitter can be a place of hubris where some attempt to claim that their actions have led an organisation to change. Or that Twitter is shaping this debate or that organisational approach. I don’t think that is the case, what I do think is the case is that OFSTED seem interested in engaging with the profession at large through different mediums – Twitter being one. Mike talked about engaging with teaching unions and Headteacher organisations to help shape inspections and the future.

Inspection as lever of change was acknowledged openly and @debrakidd (One of those people who I could have listened to for longer) noted that this could work to the advantage of the profession as the dialogue progresses.

I asked about collateral damage – that is the impact of change and the fact that whilst OFSTED my be clear,
some of the inspection teams are not. Mike talked about encouraging teams to use professional judgement and that the inspection guidance should no longer be something teams can hide behind “I would give good but the OFSTED guidance says…”

Mike was keen to stress that team composition was important and his desire to see more Heads on inspection teams. The point was raised as to whether it should only be heads and whether classroom teachers should have a role to play.

The meeting felt like a step on a long path – but Mike was generous with his time and was happy to meet again. Both @heymisssmith and @emmaannhardy have blogged about their meetings with Mike.

Mike talked about organised and punctual teachers in good schools – I initially had the wrong time for the meeting and managed to get lost coming out of the train station – I shrank a little in my chair.

I did say we all had questions – mine was “What is your favourite turnip?” I am sad to say this was not answered in the meeting – but maybe there will be another opportunity?

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I am the very model of a modern educationalist

Set to the tune of The Major General’s Song:

Okay – so we are all allowed one silly project at Summer – here is mine. To write, if possible, a version of The Major General’s song – it isn’t having a go at anybody and might be total rubbish – but hey here goes – if you can add to or improve, please do so! I’d like to get another verse and a chorus….

“I’ve considered teaching approaches both progressive and traditional.
I’ve read a lot of research whose methods are empirical.
I’ve a range of views I’m proud to share academic and political.
And done so using mediums both virtual and physical.

I regularly tweet about my resources, blogs and latest books.
To speak like this at home or work would attract some funny looks.
Through social media I engage in educational discourse.
And quote the latest books I’ve read to help me ride my hobby horse.”

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Should Education Research learn something from the Meteor Crater in Arizona?

I am currently reading Bill Bryson’s “A short history of nearly everything” and a parallel occurred to me.
The section I am up to at the moment talks about the Arizona Meteor Crater and the work of Eugene Shoemaker in the 1950s. At the time he began his research a common view was that the crater was formed by an underground steam explosion – which don’t exist.
Great I hear you say, you’ve read a book and have some new “pub quiz” knowledge – well done you. Well yes, perhaps, but I do think it a cautionary tale – being that research can often draw the wrong conclusions.
If we seek to ground our profession in empirical research we must also be open to the fact that there is more that we don’t know. If we don’t keep this in mind then we may find interesting and expensive ways of repeating old mistakes.
I think it is right that our profession considers it’s own development and based on research, but let us not simply dismiss a notion because there isn’t research – that path leads us back to another underground steam explosion.

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