Having listened to @oldandrewuk‘s extensive evidence about Ofsted I am happy to accept that Ofsted has a problem with teacher talk. However, I also have a story that has always heartened me in the face of people arguing that Ofsted don’t know good teacher-led learning when they see it.
During a recent inspection (last 2 years) an Assistant Head walked into the office ashen-faced. He looked like he’d seen a ghost. “Darla spoke for the whole thing,” he said. “The whole 20 minutes we were in there she..just…spoke! She was showing the students powerpoint slides, and then getting them to draw, then getting them to watch, then draw.”
Darla is an art teacher known for doing what she wants but always putting the students first. Nevertheless, we panicked. Though we knew, regardless of all her teacher talk, that the students would be learning a tonne – they always did – would the Inspector agree?
Darla got a clear Grade 1 “Outstanding” for the lesson. The feedback mentioned that every student was engaged, learning, developing. She was commended on her ability to use her voice, language and presence to command the whole-class. And though subtle, she had left planned prompts on students’ desk so no-one was “left behind”.
Ofsted inspectors will sometimes get things wrong. They might have pet hates, or wish to see more activities not coming directly from the centre. But my fears have been at least a little quelled that if they see really good teacher-led learning, then they won’t automatically dismiss it. After all, the same person who inspected our school must go to others too. A black sheep in the crowd? Possibly. But at least we know they exist.