Does Sir Michael Wilshaw Know ....

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geraldinecarter
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Does Sir Michael Wilshaw Know ....

Post by geraldinecarter » Thu Feb 28, 2013 8:40 pm

... What Ofsted Good Practice Looks Like?

Another exceptional posting from Scenes from the Battleground.

teachingbattleground.wordpress.com/

JIM CURRAN
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Re: Does Sir Michael Wilshaw Know ....

Post by JIM CURRAN » Fri Mar 01, 2013 2:15 pm

Thanks Geraldine, a must read. Who is really in control at Ofsted?

http://teachingbattleground.wordpress.com/

elsiep
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Re: Does Sir Michael Wilshaw Know ....

Post by elsiep » Fri Mar 01, 2013 2:47 pm

Do all HMIs have to agree with Sir Michael?

And was there supposed to be something wrong with the algebra lesson?

elsie

geraldinecarter
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Re: Does Sir Michael Wilshaw Know ....

Post by geraldinecarter » Fri Mar 01, 2013 5:18 pm

Elsie - we have such an abysmal record in teaching maths - at Cambridge they have to give remedial lessons - heaven knows what they'd have to do in other universities to be at the standard expected for further studies.

It's not ok that universities have to teach grammar, essay structure, ignore poor spelling, etc.etc. lack core knowledge. it's up to schools to ensure that foundational skills are in place.

WEre there sufficient numbers of shinning examples from Summerhill, Dartington, Steiner, Holland Park Comprehensive in the 60s-80s etc. - we could celebrate enquiry- led teaching. But the results have been so disastrous for 50 odd years I think we've had enough of a trail of failure and sufferring.

elsiep
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Re: Does Sir Michael Wilshaw Know ....

Post by elsiep » Fri Mar 01, 2013 5:28 pm

I couldn't see anything wrong with the algebra lesson on the video, Geraldine. And the school's GCSE and A level maths results looked respectable to me.

If Cambridge is having to provide remedial Maths lessons then there's something wrong either with the curriculum, or Cambridge's expectations of their student intake.

Enquiry-led teaching is a perfectly appropriate way to teach certain topics.

And what do you mean when you say 'the results have been so disastrous for 50 odd years'? How are you measuring 'results' and what do you expect them to be?

elsie

Derrie Clark
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Re: Does Sir Michael Wilshaw Know ....

Post by Derrie Clark » Fri Mar 01, 2013 6:43 pm

A couple of things come to mind. Firstly, I wonder what percentage of the pupils of this school have home tutoring (where they are taught directly)? Secondly, I find teaching staff become skilled at 'playing the game'. It is not unheard of to plan for Ofsted observation.

elsiep
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Re: Does Sir Michael Wilshaw Know ....

Post by elsiep » Fri Mar 01, 2013 7:09 pm

I still don't know what was wrong with the algebra lesson?

:???:

elsie

yvonne meyer
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Re: Does Sir Michael Wilshaw Know ....

Post by yvonne meyer » Fri Mar 01, 2013 11:55 pm

Elsiep,

Anybody who has even the most basic understanding of the components of effective instruction can immediately see what's wrong with the algebra lesson. I suggest that since you advocate the 'discovery' method of instruction, perhaps you can explain to us why, despite countless hours of discussion, you fail to discover how the discovery method fails so many students.

Heather F
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Re: Does Sir Michael Wilshaw Know ....

Post by Heather F » Sat Mar 02, 2013 12:20 am

The point was not that the algebra lesson was disastrous. The point Old Andrew was at pains to explain in this post and the previous one was that Sir Michael Wilshaw claimed Ofsted does not favour a particular teaching approach but this is clearly untrue.
I actually found the rhetoric of the teacher didn't match the lesson. The children did not 'discover' correct notation. It was just the old teacher trick of creating a challenge to make the students interested in what the answers really were.

elsiep
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Re: Does Sir Michael Wilshaw Know ....

Post by elsiep » Sat Mar 02, 2013 7:31 am

yvonne meyer wrote:Elsiep,

Anybody who has even the most basic understanding of the components of effective instruction can immediately see what's wrong with the algebra lesson. I suggest that since you advocate the 'discovery' method of instruction, perhaps you can explain to us why, despite countless hours of discussion, you fail to discover how the discovery method fails so many students.
The point is, Yvonne, that the 'discovery method' as you call it, hasn't failed students. The 'discovery method' is a highly appropriate way of ensuring that students learn - for some knowledge and skills. It's the way human beings learn naturally, it provides immediate feedback - very important for the biological substrate of learning - and it enhances episodic memory.

If, however, the 'discovery method' is used as a blanket method for teaching everything, or is used inappropriately, or by teachers who don't understand its limitations, of course it will fail students.

I've cited Chris Woodhead on this point before, but I think the story is still relevant. Woodhead re-tells the story DH Lawrence told about his teacher plonking down a lump of clay in front of his 5 year-old self and saying "There! Express yourself!" Woodhead told this story to illustrate how an emphasis on 'creativity' in the classroom has failed students. In doing so, he unfortunately displayed his ignorance about why clay (or any other modelling material) can have an important role in young children's learning and about the teacher's own ignorance about what she was doing.

Interestingly, in the same talk, Woodhead went on to say that he was at that time learning Welsh. He hated doing so and found it boring. But he felt he should learn it and was determined to do so. His point being that sometimes learning is boring but you have to do it. All I could conclude is that the man has a major problem with imagination.

elsie

elsiep
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Re: Does Sir Michael Wilshaw Know ....

Post by elsiep » Sat Mar 02, 2013 8:20 am

Heather F wrote:The point was not that the algebra lesson was disastrous. The point Old Andrew was at pains to explain in this post and the previous one was that Sir Michael Wilshaw claimed Ofsted does not favour a particular teaching approach but this is clearly untrue.
I actually found the rhetoric of the teacher didn't match the lesson. The children did not 'discover' correct notation. It was just the old teacher trick of creating a challenge to make the students interested in what the answers really were.
Not sure I agree with you about the algebra lesson. Mathematics is about the relationships between entities. You can teach those relationships using any entities you feel like, as long as the relationships hold good. The object is for the students to understand the abstracted relationships.

What troubled me was the underlying assumptions in both the posts about Ofsted. In the first one, from Pragmatic Education http://pragmaticreform.wordpress.com/2013/02/23/ofsted/ Sir Michael's view of Ofsted's role is summed up in three broad questions about the effectiveness of education. Everybody was happy.

The blog author then goes on to say that several studies had shown what Ofsted actually want: "teacher-led instruction is still out, and flashy entertainment is still in". Then followed some examples of what the author deems to be 'flashy entertainment', with no explanation of why he does so. Ofted's dismissal of direct instruction is illustrated by their criticism of lessons in which pupils spent most of the time listening to the teacher and copying down worked examples.

What puzzled me was that the examples of Direct Instruction I've seen most certainly did not consist of listening to the teacher and copying down worked examples. And Andrew Old's post (the one Geraldine cited) gave the impression that he thought teaching mathematics via 'traditional methods' (whatever they are), powerpoint slides, 'the structured reinforcement of mathematical formula' (sic), and rather boring lessons about quadratic equations was self-evidently OK.

It seems to me that there's a serious danger of over simplification and polarisation here: that either teaching is progressive, gimmicky and consists of flashy entertainment, or it's traditional, talk-and-chalk, listening to the teacher, copying down examples, and boring. What teaching needs to be is appropriate for what is being taught and for who is learning, so effective teaching techniques are actually going to be quite varied.



elsie

Heather F
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Re: Does Sir Michael Wilshaw Know ....

Post by Heather F » Sat Mar 02, 2013 9:26 am

Elsie I really think you should post your response on the actual blog so you can get a reply 'from the horse's mouth.'

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Debbie Hepplewhite
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Re: Does Sir Michael Wilshaw Know ....

Post by Debbie Hepplewhite » Sat Mar 02, 2013 12:02 pm

Ofsted reports consist of a formula which describes in great detail events in the lesson - the teacher did or said this or that and the pupils did this and that.

This is used to make a point and avoids a method of reporting that what the inspector observed was 'dull', or 'boring', or 'uninspiring', or 'ineffective for half of the class', or the 'behaviour management was dire'.

So, by using detailed description the inspectors want to get a message across without using language which is outright transparent and damning.

This could be considered to be a sensitive and effective way of 'giving the picture' without harsh language.

Whilst they give great detail on the one hand, part of their system - or formula - is then to categorise the teaching with an overarching level such as 'satisfactory' or 'outstanding'.

I would suggest that this formual, in effect, is going from one extreme to another.

Part of the system seems to be humane in that it reports, arguably, with a relatively sensitive approach. The other part of the reporting system is, I would suggest, far too simplistic - but also not fully transparent because practice is rarely encapsulated by a one word outcome or judgement.

The 'one word' judgement (or two words if it is something like 'needs improvement' or 'serious weaknesses') frustrates and upsets teachers enormously because they often feel harshly or wrongly judged - and although the inspectors are trained in a formula for observing, evidencing and judging, they are invariably very individual and schools receive widely varying treatment from different inspectors.

For years, however, I've mentioned the notion of 'upwards evaluation' and the need for two-way processes, or relationships (or three-way, or involving the relevant parties).

It is right that people should be able to evaluate the processes they are subjected to and the people who operate those processes.

There are examples of teachers/headteachers who comment that their Ofsted inspection has been conducted by very good inspectors whose feedback has been helpful and the judgements have been what might have been expected. Then, those schools can provide that upwards evaluation and give credit where it is due.

('Upwards' only in the sense that the system puts inspectors 'in authority' over school communities.)

Other teachers/headteachers are devastated and frustrated by both the handling of the inspections and the outcomes and they should also be able to provide that feedback but are often told this is a waste of time. So, they cannot report on the inspectors, or the processes of the inspection, in the public domain! When I say ' in the public domain', I mean alongside the inspection report. Of course anyone can write something and thanks to the internet, they can write 'in the public domain' - but I'm suggesting that professionally written feedback could appear alongside the inspection report - or reports setting the context of the school written by the school could appear alongside the inspection report.

Other teachers/headteachers think the outcomes are fair enough (even when they are not good outcomes) but they may still frustrated and upset because of the poor handling of the inspection but also because of the formula of the inspections.

When I provide a consultancy service, I sometimes find myself giving very hard feedback (maybe too hard - I'm so plain-speaking) and yet I am there to provide a full service to truly roll up my sleeves and model lessons, provide suggestions, work with the school - and so on. In a sense, I have no doubt that my comments are much harder than an inspector might be comfortable to make but it is balanced by the way I try to do it, my lack of authority (that is, in the sense that I'm not an 'inspector') and the level of practical and moral support I am also endeavouring to provide at the same time. I also make sure over and again that I acknowledge I have only seen the tiniest snapshot and that it is most unfair to see so relatively little and then pass comment - and it is important to acknowledge the positives - but also comment that teachers have been given mixed messages about phonics provision (and continue to be given mixed messages about provision) - and they are usually pleased to be given a good, practical steer (suggestions, resources, modelling etc) for them to try out if they think it will be beneficial.

I suggest that the vast majority of teachers and headteachers just want to do a good job - or better - and very often they need support and help (not public humiliation) - practical help - not bureaucratic paperwork systems and formal systems or, indeed, formal scary judgements which are potentially publicly demoralising - they need the 'stuff', they need the practicalities - and if there is no deep and fair analysis of what their provision is looking like, then how are they really to know.

This raises the questions, for example, of how transparent and effective and fair Ofsted inspections REALLY are with their formula of: 1) kind, wordy, detailed descriptions on the one hand (which try to give a message sometimes indirectly) - but, 2) their overall one or two word 'judgement' on the other - and then the public exposure of their judgements with NO RIGHT TO REPLY in the public domain.

During the inspections, teachers themselves may have no opportunity to discuss their rationale and full practice, they are judged on snapshots of observations but the impression and judgements have huge knock-on effects ranging from a very personal level (teachers depressed by the judgements, or frustrated because they feel they have not had sufficient chance to show-case their broader practice or even a proper opportunity to discuss fully the observed lesson/provision) - to headteachers feeling that the judgements may indeed be fair, or fair in part, but they are not able to express their response in the public domain whereas the inspection reports are in the public domain.

This one-side, high-stakes exposure is a very unhealthy state of affairs.

The teachers and headteachers who then feel their inspections are not fair, or the process has actually been damaging in some way, have to resort to blogs and forums to express their feelings and experiences.

Some people do this well - for example, Mike Kent is well-known for describing scenarios that many other people can identify with entirely.

Other people do not do this so well - their comments may seem at the level of a rant or expression of feelings rather than an analysis and detailed description of events (the level of descriptions which take a great deal of time to consider and write).

In a sense what I am suggesting is that there are inherent dangers of the current system and it may well be that the inspection system needs a serious review.

I am currently disputing some things with Ofsted and within this process, I find that I can raise a number of off-shoot issues around the Ofsted inspection process in England.

For example, there are many independent consultants who are Ofsted trained - or who provide an Ofsted inspection service some of the time - who are bought in by schools (at great expense no doubt) to provide a pre-Ofsted consultancy.

Their 'Ofsted' credentials may be reassuring to headteachers as these consultants carry the kudos of qualified inspections and will have the insider knowledge of 'what Ofsted will want to see'.

Too many schools are possibly over-concerned by 'what Ofsted will want to see' - but when Ofsted inspections are so high-stake and can crush a school staff and the reputation of the school, then it is no wonder that many headteachers are concerned that Ofsted inspectors 'will see' what they have been trained to look for!

Now here is a dichotomoy. Sir Michael Wilshaw is making strong statements to the effect that inspectors are to look for 'outcomes' and not how teachers are teaching to get the outcomes (although none of us really believe that is the case or indeed possible). Sir Michael should possibly have said something along the lines that there are many different teaching personalities who can reach good outcomes by different means and these different personalities and means need to be respected - rather than 'inspectors just look at outcomes'. Sir Michael does give talks noting that teachers have different personalities and lengths of service and yet their different personalities and methods can lead to equally good outcomes. He added that inspectors don't intervene with teaching methods or classroom provision - but they do. Maybe they should if the formula for inspections and support was revisited and the advice welcomed.

However, in theory Ofsted inspectors look at outcomes (however they are achieved) and comment accordingly - but they are not briefed to provide an advisory service.

This means that even if they could give the schools fantastic and practical advice, they are not officially allowed to.

Hence, they hold all the high-stakes judgement cards, but officially they are there to judge and not advise.

However, the very same inspectors CAN advise when their services are bought by the school as independent consultants - and they hold the cards of being trained inspectors too.

So, we have a situation where very high-stakes inspectors can sell their services to help schools get through the inspection process.

How can it possibly be acceptable that inspectors/consultants can wear these two hats?

Doesn't this suggest that it is in the interests of inspectors - or the inspection process - to:

1) Fail to provide a practical advisory service as part of the official inspection process - in other words, the Ofsted inspectors could use their so-called expertise and training to actually help the schools in practical ways at the point of inspection if the school would appreciate this advice (but this is currently not the inspection brief - they are there to inspect and provide public judgements and not to contribute to the solutions even if the school would welcome these)

2) To fail to provide an advisory service because this creates opportunities for trained inspectors to be independent bought-in advisory services at extra expense to the schools

One also has to speculate whether some of the inspectors on an individual basis would be truly capable of providing an effective advisory service for schools. It is easy to criticise, it is not so easy to provide the solutions.

Further, if the inspection process was not so high-stakes, would it be far less stressful on headteachers and teachers, and could the climate change whereby an inspection process is seen as a supportive, professional development process rather than the snapshot, intimidating process that is the case currently?

One could then speculate that if Ofsted inspections were not high-stakes to an extent, then schools may not try hard enough in the first place. If this was the case, inspectors would need the authority, or system, to allow inspectors to be very plain-speaking about this - to the school (not necessarily in the public domain) - and then support and make it clear what needs to change.

There are systems in place - for example, capability procedures and so on - to address incompetence - and these would need to be looked at if necessary.

It is my experience that some people in authority do not have the calibre, or wherewithal, to address incompetence (be it teachers, or headteachers, or governors etc) and I suggest that there are many cover-ups and many cases of bullying of one description or another. But then any system can only be as good as the people within it. Both the systems and the people need to be robust, transparent, compassionate and fit-for-purpose. Integrity is at the heart of every human endeavour - but we know there is distinct lack of this so it must be a human weakness as well as a human strength!

Anyway, I've written at too much length. It's just that inspection and how to help schools is close to my heart so I've done a bit of outpouring.

By the way, many if not most schools do try very hard but some of them don't know what they don't know because they are not privy to the comparison of their provision and other people's provision. That is why we do need some kind of national testing and assessment systems at least, and that is why it is good for teachers to visit one another's schools when they can.

However, teachers were brought out of classrooms and given non-contact (with their pupils) for a tenth of the timetable in reality to do extra paperwork. So many systems dished out to teachers over the years have been excessively bureaucratic and change with the wind or a change in government.

elsiep
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Re: Does Sir Michael Wilshaw Know ....

Post by elsiep » Sat Mar 02, 2013 12:38 pm

Heather F wrote:Elsie I really think you should post your response on the actual blog so you can get a reply 'from the horse's mouth.'
I have crossed swords with Old Andrew before, Heather, and in my experience it's very difficult to question an either/or view if the person one is questioning sees something only in either/or terms. The reason I commented on this thread was because Geraldine apparently agreed with him and I was curious as to why.

elsie

elsiep
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Re: Does Sir Michael Wilshaw Know ....

Post by elsiep » Sat Mar 02, 2013 12:48 pm

Just wanted to say I wholeheartedly agree with Debbie's thoughtful post.

elsie

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