Sean HarfordThanks to Sean Harford, National Director, Education, Ofsted for the following article.

‘My bookcase was messy so I got marked down in my assessment…this is the level of hysteria we are facing in schools’.

Receiving messages like that is why we – and you – need to tackle the misinformation that circulates about ‘what Ofsted wants’.

Teacher workload is one of the most pressing concerns in education today and has a real impact on the retention of staff. We can’t afford to lose good teachers – and children certainly can’t afford to lose the opportunities you offer them.

The impulse to make everything ‘perfect’ can drive out creativity, passion and the love of teaching that are the reasons most people enter the profession. That’s why at Ofsted we know how important it is that people aren’t doing unnecessary tasks for us and adding to their workload.

Getting the message across about what Ofsted does and doesn’t expect at inspection is vitally important.  We are acutely aware that the industry of ‘things that you must do for Ofsted’ has added to that burden.

Assessment and feedback

When looking at teaching, inspectors will consider whether assessment information is used to plan appropriate teaching and learning strategies. How this is done is down to the school. Written marking doesn’t have to be the only answer – can you assess in-class? What’s more efficient and effective for your school?

Getting this idea over is tricky and some of the myths about what Ofsted wants still persist in many schools among teachers, senior leaders and governors. I’m concerned that marking, especially, has proved to be one of the harder myths to bust.

We are partly to blame for this. We continued to report on it extensively at some inspections, especially with reference to areas for improvement in previous inspection reports from some time ago.

Some of this reporting gives teachers the idea that more detailed or more elaborate marking is required, or indeed that it is effective in promoting pupils’ achievement. I have asked our inspectors when reporting to not give any impression that marking needs to be undertaken in any particular format and to any particular degree of sophistication or detail; this lines up with our myth busting document and the school inspection handbook deals with this.

Have a look at the full guidance about mythbusting and the Inspection Handbook. You can watch our playlist of films about myths on our YouTube channel.

 

 

Find out more about the full range of formative, summative, standardised and SEN assessments RS Assessment from Hodder Education here.