This week, we had a fascinating conversation with Sean Harford from Ofsted.
A Physics graduate, Sean did a PGCE at Warwick University. He held various teaching positions culminating in an Assistant Head role. Sean joined Ofsted in 2003 as Her Majesty’s Inspector and joined the team inspecting school in ‘Special Measures’ or had ‘Serious Weaknesses’.
How do you standardise inspections when every inspector has such a different experience of teaching?
Sean sees this as one of the strengths of Ofsted. The breadth of experience and knowledge really helps. The published Handbook for Inspectors and Framework set out clear criteria for inspection provide transparency.
Ofsted also carry out quality assurance which covers Inspectors’ planning, what they do on site and the quality of reports they produce. Schools can also make complaints which are rigorously investigated. All this goes towards creating a high level of standardisation.
Should Teachers be in a panic about marking?
Ofsted created a ‘Mythbusting’ document and Sean says they are very clear that there hould be no panic around marking. Ofsted do not expect to see any particular type or volume of marking.
[Teachers] should be marking in a way that helps their students. They should be thinking about how it promotes their learning and doing what they believe is right for their children. It’s not about marking for inspectors – it’s about doing it for the learners.
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