This is written from memory due to my notes being a bit rubbish. It’s not in any order and is a flavour of the meeting rather than anything else. I am sure the others will give better detail so please read theirs.
with @educationbear @emmaannhardy @Heymisssmith @gem1001 @franNantogwe and @JWEnNorfolk
Ofsted’s HQ is on the 9th floor of a rather grand old building. It’s all rather light and airy. We tweeters all gather together and explore the etiquette of meeting in human form for the first time. Michael Wilshaw walks past to give the moment an air of further reality. This quickly turns to the surreal as we all cram into the worlds smallest lift with the enthusiasm of Freshers after one too many Alcopops to the cold hard stare of Mr Wilshaw standing in the corner. The worlds smallest and slowest lift then ascends to awkward silence that flirts with childish giggles. We all then pour out of the lift and @heymisssmith breaks the ice by noting how stepping out into Ofsted World is a little like arriving in heaven. I think Mr Wilshaw stays in the lift (there are only 9 floors. So he must have a bat cave type floor somewhere above).
This strange beginning quickly changes when we meet with the rather charming and easy going @mcladingbowl. He is clearly comfortable around people. He’s the kind of lead inspector you really hope you might get… More HMI than traditional Ofsted. After some brief introductions the topics for conversation are aired.
@emmaannhardy was concerned about performance related pay and how heads might be using Ofsted as the reason for making teachers do more than they need to do. There was much from Ofsted about how they DON’T prescribe and they are trying to get this across. But it is shocking what some schools are expecting teachers to do so they can evidence (for Ofsted) that they have ticked off performance management pay. We discussed brave heads and common sense heads. How Ofsted don’t want conformity and how they are concerned at how many Ofsted reports note ‘marking’ as the improvement point. As though the ‘in-vogue’ issue therefore continues to perpetuate the ‘We need to do this for Ofsted!’ line from senior managers. The power of trends in education never stop amazing me.
We are then joined by @HartfordSean who also adds much to the conversation and is another Ofsted person you want to talk to.
We discuss consistency a lot. Consistency of inspections and in particular consistency of training. When @educationbear raises a big issue regarding his training and the dated material it is genuinely addressed – they want to see it. This is what I got from today. Though the changes will not be as radical as some would like this is a new approach. Joining Twitter and engaging IS a strategy and is one that will continue to develop. I didn’t go to the DFE but I got a strong impression that it was clear to the people who did that they were talking to skilled education professionals today rather than politicians playing at being education experts.
@mcladingbowl had much to say about a greater emphasis upon the wider curriculum. He was challenged as to how this would filter down in the current climate but you can see that it is something that he wants to happen. With the changes to lesson observations already filtering down and clear from September this would be a welcome new emphasis.
In all the meeting was a good conversation. Nothing more. I have no idea what they go from it but I wanted it to go on into the evening. I wanted to explain more about how Ofsted inspections could be judge-less and how Ofsted is set up to work with the profession rather than fight it. I wanted to pick up on the Death Star theme and relate how the Empire was not all bad (it was an eclectic conversation). See I have always been a fan of Ofsted. My experiences have in the main been very positive. Having met some of them I feel even more positive. The charm offensive really works… Then I picture the disapproving, almost lonely, eyes of Mr Wilshaw in the lift corner and realise that’s what most teachers see when they think of Ofsted. In the past Ofsted would say tough… I am sure Mr W would. Though by it’s very nature Ofsted will always have to be tough it was nice to briefly see the other side today.