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An Inspector Calls

February 7, 2010

The staff at my school were called to a meeting at 3:30 last Thursday. To cut a long story short, we are getting visitors on 1st March.

I know that there is a lot of talk about the new ‘friendly’ approach to school inspections, but I’ve only been inspected once before when I was still just an unpromoted classroom teacher… and, to be honest, the lesson I delivered was such a disaster that I still have nightmares about it (I’ll tell you over a pint, but I’m not committing it to anything more tangible than that)!

Fast forward to today, and I am now a relatively new PT with lots of ideas and a large department who I think the world of and really don’t want to let down. I hope I’m not going to be found wanting…

One thing that is already making a difference to me is my network. The last time the school I was in was being inspected (Larbert High School, 1999) I had only my school colleagues to talk to. This time, I’ve already had several conversations with friends and colleagues from across the country who have been through the inspection process very recently. They are giving me lots of great advice and things to check on with the result that I am going in to the whole process with a much clearer notion of what I need to do. Absolutely invaluable for a PT about to undergo his first inspection.

As the inspection gets closer, I’m hoping to post some of my thoughts on the whole process along with any tips I can give to the next person who will be having visitors. In the meantime, I’ve got some marking to do, then some preparation for tomorrow, some planning for a forthcoming school trip, TeachMeet arrangements to make, a 4 year old to make chocolate milk for, and… and… and… and they wonder why teachers get tired! ;o)

Any of your good advice would be welcome in the comments!

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. Peter permalink
    February 7, 2010 9:02 pm

    Neil, the inspection process is a good experience and one I think you will enjoy. I’m sure you and your department ensure that the needs of all young people are met and they know what stage/level they are working to/words.

    You will, obviously, be using all aspects of AifL and be conducting professional review and reflection to develop practitioners learning and teaching. Do you document and record classroom observations, do other staff in the department take part in peer observation and how does this impact on the young people?

    How do you use differentiation in the class, do you have different groups working on different topics?

    Probably more questions than answers, hopefully of some use if anything I would recommend you have a read of:

    http://www.hmie.gov.uk/documents/publication/ioltse.pdf

    http://www.hmie.gov.uk/documents/publication/iocts.pdf

    Regards

    P

  2. February 7, 2010 9:57 pm

    Hi Peter,
    Thanks for these thoughts. I think we’re up to date on most of these. We’re actually trying to timetable in peer observations, but the earliest we can get ‘formal’ sessions done is in April! (The joys of trying to fit everything in!)

    We do regularly drop in to each others classes, and occasionally swap teachers for a period for particular lessons (I’ve just been doing context setting for Wilfred Owen for two of the other teachers in the department while they took my class for Macbeth and drama lessons).

    I know both the HMIe docs… though I’m still working on memorising them ;o)

    Would appreciate it if you think of anything else and were to post it. I think it might be a great idea to build this into a resource for other teachers to consult in future…

  3. February 7, 2010 10:41 pm

    Lucky you!

    Our recent inspection was a relatively benign experience. The inspector did a thorough, professional job but there was no feeling that he was trying to catch us out.

    We were left feeling a bit disappointed that we got no formal written feedback as a department – just a verbal session with our inspector. And we didn’t get much personal feedback on individual lessons, apart from the aspects of good practice which the inspector mentioned in the end-of-inspection meeting with the department.

    HMIE want to see that you know where you are (and can provide evidence to support your judgement of yourselves as a department), know where you are going and know how you plan to get there.

  4. February 8, 2010 8:03 am

    As a relatively new teacher I have never been involved with an inspection but as a professional outwith education I understand the pressure of audits and scrutiny.

    It seems to me like you’re heading in with a clear view of what you’re already good at, what you want to improve and how you’re going to do it.

    This should be enough to please. In addition, constructive criticism and a fresh take on the department will hopefully be useful. I think you have the right attitude to learning and teaching and the due respect for the inspection process to succeed.

    A* from me Mr Winton!

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