In a very special episode, Chris Dyson returns to the Pivotal Podcast to tell us the full story of his recent Ofsted inspection.
Chris is headteacher of the larger than average size Parklands Primary School, on the Seacroft Estate in Leeds where up to a third of the children join or leave the school in Key Stage 1. 72% of the children are eligible for Pupil Premium support, which is about 3 times the national average and the proportion of children with Special Educational Needs is well above average. The school also has a 14-place facility for pupils with severe learning difficulties and their attainment and progress are included in the overall outcomes for the school.
Parklands was the very first school this academic year to have an Ofsted inspection and when the call came through, Chris was flying drones in year 2.
“I’ve been waiting 3 years for this phone call.”
Chris prefers to think of Ofsted inspections as great CPD and he feels that the school has been ready since last September. He was so excited to receive the phone call that he greeted Ofsted with, “Yabba Dabba Do!”
As the inspection was initially intended to be a one-day process, Chris reassured his teaching staff that there was nothing to worry about – it would all be about the senior leadership of the school.
“How long after the phone call did you get the lamb’s hearts out of the freezer?”
Chris assures Paul that nothing was put on specially for the Ofsted inspectors.
How did the school prepare for the inspectors?
Rather than ‘burning the midnight oil’, Chris and his staff only stayed at school the night before the inspection until 7.30pm. They were already ready. Chris contemplated a hug but stuck to a handshake in the end.
At the first meeting, Chris was pleased and surprised to see that all of the 6 or 7 points the inspectors wanted to discuss were already up on the wall in his office as part of the School Development Plan.
At the end of day 1 Chris knew they had done very well but wasn’t sure if they had done enough to be rated as outstanding. The lead inspector asked him if he wanted to convert to a 2-day inspection so that the school had a chance to go for outstanding. The Ofsted team were happy to do that if he wanted them to. Chris agreed even though it would mean lots of extra stress for the class teachers who would have their lessons observed on the next day.
“What’s the point in just settling for ‘good’ when you can go for something and stretch and challenge yourself? We challenge these children every day so let’s challenge ourselves, let’s really go for it.”
How did it go? Listen to the episode to find out!