You heard me. There's been a flurry on Twitter this morning that gladdened my wholly humble heart. An elder statesman of the edusphere, Oldandrew (@oldandrewuk- don't forget the uk part; like the X-Factor, he's been syndicated internationally. The Ukrainian version is hilarious) has been banging the breakfast gong about the current Head of Ofsted's actual stance on how teachers should teach, and by extension, how schools should encourage their staff to behave. Read his blog for a good summary if you want to know more, but I'll condense it down into weapons grade.
'We, and in that word “we” I include OFSTED, should be wary of trying to prescribe a particular style of teaching, whether it be a three part lesson; an insistence that there should be a balance between teacher led activities and independent learning, or that the lesson should start with aims and objectives with a plenary at the end and so on and so forth. We should be wary of too much prescription. In my experience a formulaic approach pushed out by a school or rigidly prescribed in an inspection evaluation schedule traps too many teachers into a stultifying and stifling mould which doesn’t demand that they use their imagination, initiative and common sense. Too much direction is as bad as too little.'
|In Communist Ofsted, class teaches YOU|
Wilshaw, of course, has the chops, and the notches on his axe to suggest someone who knows what he's bloody well talking about. He's actually done what every armchair edugob imagines they would, were they only able to stir themselves from the internet: he's taken a tough catchment and given them an education, and a better chance than they ever might have hoped. He mops up more slings and arrows than Saint Sebastian. The worst that people seem to be able to say about him is that his comments are 'unwise' and 'misjudged'. Considering that this is usually from people who haven't read what he said, but rely on the headlines, this is a bit ironic. And anyway, if that's the worst anyone could say about you, I reckon you could sleep easy. Most of what I say is quite spectacularly misjudged, which is exactly how I like it.
|Comrade pupils! Today we work from books!|
To be fair, some schools make even more of this than they should, fetishising what they think Ofsted are looking for, and making a cargo cult of education: the Gods are angry, and there must be a sacrifice. Unfortunately, it's been all of us. And yet, the Gods are angry still, and the crops are still failing, or at least the kids often are.
|He regretted asking the inspector for feedback.|
And that's where we come in. Read The Duke of Wilshaw's actual thoughts. Then go back into school tomorrow and think, 'What's the best way to teach these kids?' without thinking about Ofsted at all. If you're in a management position, do the same, and reframe the way you evaluate and assess teaching in your department areas. Don't observe lessons with a checklist; go in with your eyes open and judge it like a teacher. Are the kids learning? Are they safe? We need to get back into the habit of teaching to the best of our abilities, and then expecting- demanding- Ofsted to record this. If someone comes into your classroom, ask them to justify their assessment.
|Is this you?|
Maybe it's time we stopped waiting for people to fix things for us. Maybe it's time we started to fix things, one class at at time, for ourselves. Who knows? You could even apply to be an inspector.