The simple words “Ofsted inspection” – are enough to put the fear throughout any school within the UK. They don’t roll around very often but when they do, be sure to be prepared for an intense period.
There is no magic formula to passing an inspection - otherwise all establishments would obviously be ‘outstanding’. Our short tips won’t give you the key, but they can help you to organise and prepare for what’s to come.
Get an action plan in place early
Be ready for when the call comes. Everyone in the leadership team should have a plan to refer to immediately after your inspection date is given. Include things like; main contacts, staff memos, how to prepare rooms, which documents are needed and advice on giving information to parents. Preparation will help to reduce stress levels and mistakes in the build-up.
Hold regular staff meetings
These meetings should be about reassurance, motivation and encouragement including team-building. They should not be about scare-mongering. Be positive, set the tone for the Ofsted visit and tell your staff they are brilliant. Give all teachers a checklist on what they will need to prepare.
Appearances do matter
It’s not a cliché, Ofsted inspectors are people and they like to feel welcomed. Engage with the inspectors, chat to them, always make them comfortable and able to ask questions. In the building, if you can give lead spots to your pupil’s best work, this will benefit the school. Showcase the diversity and ability that is available at your establishment while staying true to your values.
Always save exercise books
You can show consistency of teaching through archived exercise books, it is often a key indicator of quality. Marking and feedback will be scrutinised along with the children’s handwriting and layout, so make sure you have plenty of examples available from previous years.
Key files and documents
Showing the high standards of the school’s practice is important, you can do this by thoroughly filing key documents. Leadership and managements files, SMSC file, behaviour files, safeguarding files etc. Whatever area Ofsted are looking at, you should be adhering to it with a file to back it up. Include examples of practice and photographic evidence where possible too.
Know your data
It’s not a word most people like, but if you know the data behind your attainment and standards – it will go down well with Ofsted. You should show that you’re narrowing gaps between groups or individuals, how is the school using this data to enhance learning? Try and show any improvements over a two or three-year period where possible.
High-quality teaching is the main basis of the Ofsted inspection, so show it off! Make sure your teachers are setting high expectations for each pupil and taking time on individuals. Make sure everything is consistent - planning, assessment, marking. Overall, make sure your teachers demonstrate their passion.
Finally, get to know the Ofsted handbook inside and out
No surprises here, everyone in the leadership team should know this. Quiz each other on Ofsted matters and have the handbook on hand during inspection and during team meetings.
There’s no doubt that an Ofsted inspection is a stressful event for any school, but when you follow simple plans and engage passionately – you should be able to show off your school without any issues!