Time to shine – What the new Ofsted Framework could mean for governance
This week we took part in a pilot inspection for the September 2019 Ofsted Framework. I asked the inspector if I might share any implications for governance, as I saw them, and he was happy for me to do this.
So……. here goes!
First, this was a challenging day for the school but a day full of professional conversations where we had the opportunity to really showcase what we do.
Safeguarding always comes first and was rigorous. The inspector tested what we told him – for example, he checked after 9am to see that a gate in our perimeter fencing had indeed been locked after we told him that this was a routine. He also asked to see evidence that governors checked the single central record – even after Amanda Spielman’s speech saying this was unnecessary. - Carry on governors!
Secondly – the real focus of the day
From my discussions and observations this was about the school’s culture, leadership, curriculum and a strong emphasis on reading right from the start (he wanted to see phonics taught in EYFS, saw children reading to Trixie our reading dog, talked about involving the community even more – we have a community little library at the school gate.) The inspector asked to meet with as many governors as possible in the afternoon – by which time he had, of course, seen much and formed many conclusions.
For us it was a ‘lets talk about the school’ professional conversation. Not threatening, nothing about data, no horrid tricky questions – just lots of great discussion and opportunities to learn and to showcase what we do. The interesting thing was that he completely got it – he understood the school our passion and exactly what we are about! When I later looked at my ‘school on a page’ crib sheet (well almost 3 pages actually) I could tick off our strengths as he had identified them all.
Lessons for governors then?
- Prepare well – by which I mean not just for the day but consider your public information. Make the governor section of your website tell your story, Who are you? How are you organised? What impact have you had? Do you communicate with parents/carers? Inspectors will know lots about you before you meet them and will understand what you do.
- Lead! – play a full part of the leadership of the school. Get that vision and strategy right – set your values and live them. (see earlier blogs on these topics)
- Establish a strong culture by your leadership and model your values – he particularly commented on the passion, our Church School values and the strong relationships between adults, between adults and children and between the children themselves. (I have blogged about this too – ethical leadership)
- Workload – we talked a bit about this and the need for governors to be careful about paperwork/reports etc. I was able to reassure him that we had good feedback on this in a recent staff survey.
- Curriculum – this is the big change isn’t it? By the time the inspector met with us he had spent a day immersed in our school, he had read our information and knew that the way the board has influenced what is taught is by our clear vision and strategic aims. So back to my earlier point – lead!
He used back to us the example of PE where we have taken the decision to have 3 one-hour sessions a week to address head on our strategic aim for ‘the healthy child mind body and soul.’ – See what I mean when I said at the start, he ‘got it’ he understood what we are about!
For sure he spent a lot of time in a ‘deep dive’ with the SLT on an aspect of our curriculum – history in our case - but from a governance perspective he wanted to see that we were there at the start with the ‘intent’ and talked about ways in which we could be there at the end looking for ‘impact’.
That final point is for me the biggest take away and we will be thinking about how we can ensure we gather evidence for impact in future.
I hope this is helpful colleagues!