Confident Conversations with Inspectors

Most headteachers and leaders say that the prospect of the 90-minute conversation with an Ofsted inspector is a cause of high levels of anxiety.

It is important to tackle this anxiety head on, so that you can feel confident in conversation with an inspector and know exactly how you are going to approach the situation, as well as what you should say.

Fran Hargrove, Deputy Chief Executive of HEP, has recorded a short video to explain just how you can do that. In it, she lays out the key questions that Ofsted wants answered:

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Ofsted wants to understand what it is like to be a child at your school

All leaders should ask their students what it is like to be a pupil at their school. Their answers should give you plenty of evidence which you will be able to proudly share with the inspector.

Ofsted wants to know if the curriculum meets the needs of pupils

Is it of a consistent quality? Is it delivered expertly leading to positive and improving outcomes?

Two things that leaders often miss are that many pupils have language and vocabulary deficits, as well as potentially knowledge deficits.

Therefore, your curriculum is vocabulary- and knowledge-rich to meet those deficits. Your teachers should also be aware of this, and don’t forget to refer to your website to help back up your statements.

Ofsted wants to know if pupils are known, kept safe, and taught to be positive citizens

Do pupils behave well in a culture of aspiration and scholarship? Is your school’s safeguarding policy embedded in all staff and students?

Pupils can tell you themselves if they feel safe at school – never underestimate the value of asking pupils what they think about their school.

Ofsted wants to know if leaders accurately know and understand their school and have the capacity to lead and develop it

Know your school’s strengths and guide the conversation in that direction. Take the lead and ensure that other school leaders and teachers can consistently point to the same strong areas.

After addressing these questions, Ofsted will spend the next few days testing out what you said.

Own the conversation

Take control of the conversation and point out what the inspector should look for. If an inspector comes in with a good idea of what they will see and hear, they probably will see and hear it. Use it as an opportunity to highlight your school’s areas of strength.

Pre-prepare a short introduction. Reference your diversity and your location as well as other key details about your school. Set the scene and paint a picture for the inspector.

You can use these sentence stems to help guide your conversations.

You can view the sentence stems as well as other helpful guidance in this PowerPoint.

About the Author:

Luke Kemper

Luke Kemper is Insight and Intelligence Lead at HEP. He recently graduated from the University of Cambridge with an MPhil in Education, Globalisation and International Development. Before that, he worked for seven years as a university lecturer and high school teacher in China and Poland.

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