I'm Not Disappointed, I'm Just Angry Chapter 9
The one guaranteed way to lose a room in teaching is start by saying, ‘Ofsted will look for...’ A third of the room will panic, this third usually made up of those newer to the profession. The second, slightly older, third will have heard it all before. Some of it more than ten times and in different formats as the whims and goalposts seem to change every two to three years. The final third will have been in the profession for years and will rightfully question – why do we worry about what Ofsted wants instead of what the staff and kids need?
During the delights of my NQT Year and in between tellings off, I experienced Ofsted for the first time. There are many differing opinions on this agency but the general consensus is that coming in to judge up to 5 years’ worth of work in a two and sometimes one day visit is...well slightly better than the shit that the NHS has to deal with so shut up moaning. Some non-teacher friends of mine think that they should be abolished as people don’t like them. Well, there’s a lot of things I don’t like and if I abolished them there would be a large, suspicious hole in Westminster. (Not the first Catholic to have plotted that).
Ofsted are a necessary evil as most inspection services are. They give management the license to make sweeping changes that are necessary and this is fantastic – in the right hands. Ofsted also give teachers the validation they so sorely lack. To have an inspector or an HMI come in and say well done is the greatest praise that some teachers get throughout their careers. But having been subject to their scrutiny almost ten times over my short career they are also some of the most ill-informed, petty, nihilistic, unctuous, slippery and inept people I have ever had the misfortune to come across. If that comes across as a touch bi-polar then let me clarify. I’ve worked in affluent schools that do less and achieve less with their pupils than in hard-working, determined schools in poverty-stricken areas. Guess which school comes out on top? Stick a few kids who can recite some Shakespeare in front of them and it’s a 1 all the way! Advance to go, collect £200 and all the Ofsted ‘Outstanding’ stickers you can plaster on your stationery! Stick a kid who has been trafficked from Somalia and forced to live with an ‘Aunt’ that beats him and leaves him to care for his ‘sisters’ in front of them to demonstrate the fact that this kid can now read from a text and write his name in English and they’ll question the kid’s ‘thirst for learning’, ask how far from their target grade they are and where the PPI money is.
When I started teaching, Ofsted would come in for up to a week and stay all day, giving you over a week’s notice. In 2018 they can turn up in the car park at 8am and be gone by 12 with your school condemned to the horrors of ‘Special Measures’ before you can even offer them some of the nice beef and the less dodgy milk in their tea to try to bump the scores up a touch. I’ve seen Ofsted as something apart from the general practice of a school so I’ve handily summed up my experience with them and with the ever popular ‘mini Ofsted’ or ‘Mocksted’ procedures in this chapter.
Ofsted 1 School 1
After weeks and weeks of Dad’s Army-esque ‘They’re coming, they’re coming, don’t panic but everything has to be perfect, oh my god you haven’t done that? Ofted guidance says....’ they come. We have been drilled to think that students will be asked their targets so we drill the students to know their targets. The worst part is the waiting. During an inspection you’ll find teachers hanging round doors like Michael Jackson’s progeny hanging out a window and in pretty much the same mental and physical state as the great man himself. The inspectors will usually spend the morning in a meeting with the Senior team where they come up with their hypotheses based on exam data, parental surveys, the last Ofsted report, talking to the senior team and slicing the innocent stomach of a battery hen before casting its guts onto a Ouija board. Then they go out and conduct lesson observations. The senior team will try to steer them in certain directions but the reality is they go where they want to fit their agenda.
I teach five lessons on the first day of the two day inspection. I’ve written a lesson plan, prepared resources, marked all books up to date, tidied my hellhole of a room, prepared a scripted response to the potential questions they can ask and practised five hours worth of lessons at least three times. It’s after break time, I’ve been in a briefing with them, taught a tutor group, two full hour long lessons and done a breaktime duty before heading straight to my third lesson without my arse touching a chair for five hours. Finally, they arrive at my classroom. I’m teaching Y7. Derek (think Brad Pitt but 12 so like in Benjamin Button and with severe spade-to-face damage) is answering a question badly. He spies the inspector, something clicks from his Manchurian Candidate training and he promptly announces, ‘Oh, I know it’s one of my targets!’ The inspector sits and pronounces the lesson excellent with a stroke of a pen. This is the highlight of Derek’s school career. Off he goes into armed robbery and ABH but for that one, shining moment he is the child equivalent of fois gras, force fed without mercy for the benefit of the faceless masses. Farewell Derek, I taught you fuck all but the piece of paper says excellent. You will forever be in my heart and on my CV.
 Ofsted gradings go from 1-4 on a sliding scale. Outstanding, Good, Requires Improvement (used to be satisfactory) and Unsatisfactory.
 A target grade is how performance management is worked out. A voodoo juju formula is applied to your SATS score from Y6 and then the machine magically shits out what you should achieve in Y11. Woe betide the teacher if you don’t! Slight flaw here is that there are only 3 separate disciplines tested in Y6 and up to 15 in Y11. So if you want to know how well you are supposed to do at 16 in PE, just look at your English SATS score from when you were 11.
 Pupil Premium money is what the school receives to support the learning of low-income children. It’s rarely used for that due to budget cuts but when Ofsted come you can be sure it’s all beautifully documented on a spreadsheet freshly generated the night before by some poor sod who has just found that it’s on their job description.
 This translates as ‘Panic! They’re shit so let’s fire everyone and throw some money at it!’
 True story