Once again we returned to school really early. We knew from the inspection timetable that we would only have the HMI and one other inspector for today. Wednesday was Anita’s turn to be out of class so she went straight to the staffroom to work on finishing the data that we had been asked for. Ruth was in with Mark and they began to set the classroom up ready for the children. We checked over our planning and hand annotated our plan for the day following yesterday’s observations – once gain we wanted to keep things exactly as they always are. Our Head teacher (who is a trained Ofsted inspector) said that our inspector would seek us out during the day as he wanted to give us feedback. We also knew that the inspection team had spent time discussing our EYFS ‘grading’ and we were close to being given an outstanding. We couldn’t decide if this was extra pressure or not after being in Special Measures for so long!
As it turned out the inspectors didn’t return to the classroom at all! Our inspector kept popping in to speak to Anita to ask clarifying questions about the data. During the morning the inspector spoke to Anita and gave her feedback on the observations and overall EYFS grading. After he had finished Mark popped in and Anita asked the inspector to repeat the feedback to Mark. He was highly complementary about our practice and provision and praised the children and their independence, motivation and engagement. He praised our teaching and how we have a clear knowledge of early development and we enhance our provision accordingly. He told us that we had nearly all of the criteria for ‘outstanding’ but because of one thing he was unfortunately going to award us a good. Aaaaaaargh! He explained that he wanted to see even more detail in our use of data – specifically for supporting vulnerable learners to make rapid (and specific) progress. If we had written down that we wanted Child A to learn letter sounds ‘m,a,s,d,t,i,n’ by 24th October and then made mention of how we were supporting this, we would have been awarded an outstanding grading. Anita had asked if there was any way to prove that we do this already and then coincidentally Mark asked exactly the same thing but the inspector mentioned that it was too late for us to make changes in this way.
Anita met with the inspector and our assessment coordinator (Deputy Head) to talk through the data. We knew by then that the grading had been decided and in fact we were just providing headline data for the report. However, most of what Anita had spent HOURS calculating was not even looked at – even though it had been asked for…. Sigh! We knew that nobody would have an observation from either inspector this afternoon which was a relief. We finished the day and met most of the staff and governors to discuss our inspection. Staff knew that our grading was ‘good’, although this wasn’t technically official and we weren’t allowed to discuss this outside of the staffroom. The inspection finished with the HMI reporting back to the SLT and governors to summarise her findings and give final judgements. We all sat and waited for the team to return to the staffroom – cue cheers, tears and a visit to the pub! After 3 years of hard, hard work our efforts had paid off. Hurrah!
Our next blog will summarise our top tips for Ofsted under the new framework!