If Sir Michael Wilshaw says Ofsted aren't looking for a certain way of teaching, why do teachers think they are?

If you’ve not read the post by Andrew Old about Sir Michael Wilshaw stating what Ofsted are looking for when they come to observe your lesson, then go and read it here: What OFSTED Say They Want

Essentially, Sir Michael is stating that Ofsted are not prescribing a certain style of teaching, are not advocating a ‘teaching by numbers’ approach and are not dogmatic in forcing teachers to teach in a way that is unnatural to them.

I’m telling you, that the vast majority of teachers are frightened that the reverse is true. You can see there are several comments about Andrew’s post that state so, on his blog, on Twitter and everywhere else his article is being talked about.

So how come we all believe something about Ofsted that isn’t true?

The most popular and most likely explanation is that this information is not trickling down to the opposing forces of the Ofsted inspectors and the senior managers in schools. Either Ofsted inspectors are stating explicitly that they expect to see things like three part lessons and group work during feedback sessions to schools, or senior managers are making educated guesses that this is what Ofsted will be looking for and are forcing them upon teaching staff.

It goes without saying that I’ve both met personally and have heard many other accounts of senior management teams who are petty, anally retentive, micro managing bullies who are highly likely to design a way of teaching that would get themselves an outstanding lesson observation from Ofsted, and then make all teachers in their charge teach in that exact way down to the minutest of detail, instead of allowing them to develop their own style.

They have never been told that is what Ofsted are looking for, they are just putting a lot of effort into guessing.

Another group of people who are doing this are education consultants and those that run ‘How to teach and outstanding lesson’ type courses. They are also attempting to devise a formula that will please Ofsted, and are using this to sell their services and courses. It’s practical, quick fix advice that sells better than the promise of being nurtured and supported to find your own methods.

Similarly, Ofsted are taking their observation criteria and are interpreting it in the way that they want. It is a very vague set of criteria, and I plan a future blog post where I show you exactly how they can be manipulated, in a similar way that I did with the new teachers standards: New Teacher’s Standards – how they can be manipulated

As a result, Ofsted inspectors are thinking about what would get them personally the top grade, and go out looking for that. This specific, personal opinion then appears in feedback, which is interpreted as what they literally want to see, rather than just a good example. Senior managers get a heads up on this from looking at recently inspected school’s reports.

In short, it’s caused by those who are trying to support teachers devising their own perfect lesson and then promoting that as gospel. That’s an easier, quicker way of working, looks better and is easier to sell than developing teachers to find their own approach.

Why do you think this is happening? Have you experienced having a method of teaching forced on you? Please comment below.


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