…before I started writing in this blog again. It’s been a very long time, almost two years, and much has happened in the meantime. So what, you may well ask, has caused this apparent seismic shift? Why write again now? Well, many of you reading this may have followed a discussion on twitter last night, of which I was a part, involving, amongst others, David Didau (@LearningSpy) and Mary Myatt (@MaryMyatt). I think, in part, my position was a little muddied by the argument itself and maybe I didn’t make it clear what I thought. So here I am. To try to do that now.
After reading Mary’s blog post today, which, by the way, is well worth reading regularly if you don’t already, I wish that many other Ofsted inspectors were as erudite and approachable. Now, don’t get me wrong, I am not talking from first hand experience here (we are waiting for our inspection, and have been for a while), but anecdotal evidence from other Head Teachers in my local authority (12 inspections in 3 weeks since September) would seem to point to my argument having some basis in fact. And this, I think, is at the crux of my position on the argument on the usefulness of grading lessons. In terms of developing staff, the grading of individual lessons is pretty useless. Or so I think. David Didau makes a good case for this in one of his blog posts I read a while back. But just because I don’t agree that sharing judgements with staff can necessarily have a positive impact, it doesn’t mean that I, as a Leader of our school, will refrain from making that judgement and, for my own records, record that judgement. Because I feel I have to. And this gets back to my stance on the whole issue. Until all Ofsted inspectors look at things in the same way that Mary does, whether it says so or not in the Ofsted documentation, I, along with many other Heads, will feel that they have to have this kind of information to hand should they need it during inspection.
I’m very, very early into my career as a Head (less than a year), and I feel nowhere near confident enough as yet to be able to become a little more ‘maverick’ with my approach to things. I feel confident that what we do at school is right for the children, and I am more than confident to fight that corner. But as to knowing what ‘grade’ the teachers are in our school? I do know. All of them. I know what the teaching and learning looks like in every classroom. And will fight my corner on every single judgement. Do I need a ‘lesson grade judgement’ to make that case? No. Could it possibly help at any point to have it? Maybe. Does it do any harm to staff to know? You’d have to ask them. Do I share it with them? Only if they want to know. It’s not about that. And never should be. Judging a single lesson is, in my view, useless at best and dangerous at its worst.
And the sooner everyone realises that, the better.