April 2011
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Elusive outstanding teaching grade even harder to achieve?

Having just studied OFSTED’s latest data on their 2016 inspections carried out in the Autumn Term 2010 ( and yes, I should have better things to do!) I was flabberghasted to see the very low proportion of lessons in both primary and secondary school where teaching was graded ‘outstanding’. Go on, have a guess!  In the 329 secondary schools visited teaching was said to be ‘outstanding’ in just , wait for it,  a measly 12! That is just 4%. The same in primary. What is going on?

We know that the sample varies year on year and that there are more inspections in poorly performing schools. But isn’t that the worry. Precisely what some of these schools need most is more outstanding teaching and yet OFSTED says they’re not getting enough. This has passed the press by.

Why am so agitated about this? Partly because I have been a teacher for much of my life and now try to inspire others with examples of outstanding practice, not least on my website www.keystagehistory.co.uk . How disheartening it is, though, for teachers who see these stats. What on earth is expected of them lesson in lesson out if these stats are to be believed? Surely they must realise that for teaching to be ‘oustanding’ it cannot mean that the vast majority of lessons are outstanding. Teaching is not like that. You just can’t keep it up every lesson, every day, every week, every term. Common sense tells me that something’s wrong with how ‘outstanding’ is being rewarded. In one sense this doesn’t matter, but those of us who spend a lot of time with teachers who are keen to excel, we don’t want them to ‘beat themselves up’ because they are not brilliant every lesson. I know outstanding teachign when I see it. In my view a more realistic figure is 1 in 12 lessons i.e. every other day you might expect to teach a couple of outstanding lessons, along with the vast majority that fall within the broad category of good. Of course, as historians , we would teacher a higher proportion than most! I know this to be true, but OFSTED no longer publishes the subject figures in these updates, unfortunately.

And if OFSTED think that the proportion of outstanding teaching isn’t improving, maybe they need to consider whether the best route really is continuing flogging until morale improves! You could instead go to the OFSTED best practice website and look under history. I did:there were ‘no records’ !

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