New draft Ofsted framework. A force for good?

Original version published 22nd January 2019.
Last updated 10th March 2019.

Having read through the new draft Ofsted framework a few times over the last few days (specifically in relation to quality of teaching), I am quietly optimistic. I may have misunderstood elements, so please correct me if you think I am wrong. But, here is why:

grass-1913167__480

Firstly, in relation to different approaches to teaching, on page 25 it states that ‘Ofsted does not advocate that any particular approach should be used exclusively in teaching.’ which is good to hear and see written in black and white. You are not a children’s entertainer. You do not need to make every lesson all singing and dancing or make sure you include group work, a discussion, a role play and peer assessment when being observed. Different aspects of the curriculum can require different approaches. We know that, so it’s good to see it made clear here.

different approaches

However, it is important to then go on and read the ‘Education inspection framework: overview of research’, as there are a number of features that must be present. None of which are particularly controversial, but still useful to see in black and white what is expected.

effective teaching

The list above makes sense. Most teachers would pick these out as pretty important in a lesson I would have thought. However, this does still sound alarm bells in my head. The fear I have is that some may turn this into a tick list and use when observing lessons in their school. We MUST steer clear of this. Importantly, towards the bottom of page 12 it states that This does not, of course, mean that lessons need to follow a particular structure or sequence’. I am so pleased to see this sentence as it shows that it does not mean that we should return to the mini-plenary every 15 minutes, or make students stick in detailed topic mind maps to provide an overview of each unit, or the dreaded copying down of lesson objectives. It does though link nicely to the next section I have picked out.

Teacher talk

teacher talk

What a relief it is to see this. How many times have teachers been criticised for talking for too long in lesson? When being observed in the past I have always been aware of how long I have spoken for. I can recall numerous occasions when I cut myself off and got students onto a task as I had been talking and questioning students for more than 15 minutes. Even though I knew that I should have kept going, I cut things short to avoid the inevitable comment about talking for too long. Hallelujah!

Obviously this doesn’t mean that you should talk for the whole lesson, where you wax lyrical about your last holiday, latest household acquisition or comprehensive drum and bass CD collection in the loft. However it does mean that you can explore alternative explanations where students are not quite getting it, or continue to question and discuss ideas that pupils have latched onto, without fear of criticism that after 15 minutes they had not started their first written task.

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 Effective questioning

questioning

Can’t argue with any of that. Questioning is a great way to assess the knowledge and understanding of students. It is also a great way to extend their understanding and help them develop more detailed and comprehensive answers. It is also good to see the sentence ‘This does not mean that a mix should be used in all lessons…’ as it should stop this being added to the tick box lesson observation sheet in schools!

question types

Differentiation

differentiation 1

Now this is quite a thing.

In addition….

differentiation 2

At last, this idea that differentiation involves producing different tasks for different groups of students has been put to bed. Focused support, yes (adaptive instructions, questioning, Live marking, scaffolding etc). Lots of different sheets and tasks. No.

Interestingly enough, this clarification regarding differentiation and what is expected when looking at lessons and student work has been taken even further. In a recent Twitter conversation (excerpts selected by me below) involving Professor Daniel Muijs, (Head of Research at OfSted) and Sean Harford (Ofsted National Director), it was stated that evidence of differentiation would not be looked for.

Diff 1

Diff 2

Original thread can be viewed here

In addition, Muijs and Harford also stated that…..

Diff 3

Diff 4

Original thread can be viewed here

adaptive

Formative assessment

formative assessment

This is an interesting one. The two conditions listed above regarding giving advice on how to improve and pupils acting on that advice, suggests that the different coloured pens faze could be here to stay. If there is to be evidence in books that teachers have given advice and students have responded to it, how else would someone see that unless different coloured pens were used e.g. black for normal work, green for teacher advice and then purple for pupil responses?

If we were not being observed then everything could be done in one colour, any colour. As long as it is happening and the students are learning and progressing, it makes no difference. However, in order to show that we are doing these things, when someone pops into the lesson for 10 mins, how else can we prove this?

Conclusion

Overall, as stated at the beginning, I feel quite optimistic about the new draft framework in relation to teaching. It seems to me that Ofsted have looked at some of the non-evidence based snake oil initiatives that have become prevalent in schools in recent years and addressed them head on.

However, the key is how well Ofsted inspectors are trained in relation to this so that there is consistency in it’s implementation and whether school leaders can avoid the lazy tick box approach to lesson observations and park their learned behaviours when it comes to assessing teaching and learning in lessons from now on.

These are just my own thoughts/ramblings and obviously not necessarily the view of my employer.

 

Key documents:

Ofsted School Inspection Handbook – Draft January 2019
Ofsted Research for Education Inspection Framework 2019

 

Additional reading (any views expressed do not necessarily represent my views):

 

Interesting thread. Click in box to view:

 

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