This week on twitter I have read several posts and tweets containing sweeping generalisations about SLT. Twitter is on fire with its condemnation of Senior Leadership Teams. Some of the criticisms levelled at leadership are justified, I have to admit. There are still some who sit in ivory towers and deliver very few lessons. They then sit in judgement on others when observing and give advice on how to improve their teaching. Hardly fair. Some do still grade lessons and thereby damage a teacher’s confidence. Some remove non contact time and expect teachers to cover for absent colleagues despite this being against all the rules. I’m happy to say that none of the SLTs I know are like this. I want to make that clear.
In particular this week there has been much tweeting and blogging about the ‘Outstanding’ grade. Why are SLT still doing this is the cry. Why are they grading lessons? I agree, why are they? If they are they shouldn’t be. This is where some irritating sweeping statements occur. Are SLT really actually doing this? A few misguided ones may be but there will always be some people who ignore the rules. In my opinion what SLT are doing is keeping a record of teachers (including themselves) and how they have performed over the year. In my school no grades are given and the process is supportive. What must be understood here is that the Ofsted Inspector asks the HT what they have done to support any teacher who may need extra help. How can the HT supply this information if no observations are carried out. Experience alone does not equal a good teacher as everyone knows. @Marymyatt keeps us all up to date with the latest rules regarding Ofsted and you can read her blog here. In particular note the part which says
“records of the evaluation of the quality of teaching, but inspectors should not expect to see records of graded lesson observations” and also
“The key objectives of lesson observations are to inform the evaluation of the overall quality of teaching over time”. This is very clear to me. Records must be kept, grades should not.
Personally, being part of SLT means working my hardest for all the children in my school. Is that not the same for every teacher? I am sure it is. Another part of my role is to work my hardest to help every member of staff to be the best that they can be for themselves and the children in our care. Ofsted require us to keep records of how we have collectively as a school improved teaching and learning. Observations are part of that record. A further part of my role is dealing with Ofsted in face to face talks. Since new guidelines came in all discussions regarding observations are with SLT. I know this first hand from our recent inspection.
I’m sure you’re aware that many SLT don’t like the Ofsted process either. There has to be a better way of improving education in this country rather than this current regime of mistrust. Things are improving over the last few months and this is a welcome change. I have to say that pitting teachers against SLT in this way is not constructive and is not helping in any way. Surely we should be joining forces to find a way to improve things for all without discussing the downfalls of SLT. We are only human for one thing and also there is much misinformation being bandied around.
At the end of August I am attending a meeting with Ofsted in Manchester. Please put your intellect to good use and think of ways to improve our current Ofsted regime. Things are improving and I for one would like this trend to continue.
Thank you for reading