Your Ofsted experience depends on your inspector

Today Ofsted tweeted the following quote from Michael Wilshaw:

@Ofstednews: Sir Michael reiterates Ofsted guidance – “we do not, let me repeat, not, have any preferred teaching style” #neec2014

However, this is not the experience of many. I’ve seen various tweets and posts from disgruntled teachers who have experienced an inspector that does have a preferred teaching style.

Whilst I’ve not had any negative experiences of that myself in recent years (I feel I’ve been lucky to experience some fair and highly effective inspectors in my own school), that can not be said for everyone.

My children’s school were recently inspected, and while the school came out as ‘Good’ there were a couple of references to (I think) certain teachers that are negative. One quote in the report is this:

In a few lessons, teachers’ explanations are too long and limits the time pupils have to get on with their own work and find things out for themselves.

Aside from the bad grammar, I also think this is contradictory to Wilshaw’s stance. What is this inspector saying here? Children can only learn if they find things out for themselves? Are long teacher explanations inappropriate?

I think the inspector is missing the point – long explanations are only inappropriate if they are (1) boring or (2) lack accuracy and if this is the case, the inspector should say so. The first indicates a need to develop pedagogy, the second indicates a need to improve subject knowledge.

By not being specific, the inspector is allowing teachers to go under the misapprehension that long talks are always bad; and short talks with plenty of time for children to find things out for themselves are always good.

Furthermore I think I know the teacher that the inspector is referring to and he is legend. He’s one of those older teachers who has given his all to teaching for many years and has lots of interesting life experiences to share. My children love having him teach them; they always remember his lessons; they come home with the same spark in their eyes that he has when he teaches.

I don’t think inspectors have the right to take this away from my children.

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