‘Taking Control – How to Prepare for Inspection’. 

A book that will hopefully help a great many schools.

There’s very little out there that will help schools to prepare for a visit by Ofsted. The school leaders and governors I support and the vast majority of the many others I’ve spoken with on Twitter and in my work, know full well they would be mad not to prepare/to have prepared for their inspections. Ofsted say schools shouldn’t prepare and I feel that is a naive and a potentially damaging view, as the inspection stakes are currently so high.

Ofsted won’t allow their independent inspectors to offer advice to schools; thus Ofsted wouldn’t allow me both inspect and to write a book like this. Very recently, this reason caused me to have to stop inspecting, but it has allowed me to write ‘Taking Control’!

It is leadership who need to be prepared. Classroom teachers and assistants have next to no need. This book says that any extra inspection preparation pressure put on classroom teachers and their assistants by leaders – or by themselves, as teachers can be their own worst enemy sometimes – is unnecessary. There is an extract from the book to say this here. The contribution of the school’s teachers and teaching assistants, to their upcoming inspection has already been done, pre-inspection. Nothing teachers can do by teaching, brilliantly, or otherwise, during inspection will change your grade. That grade has already been determined by your results and the progress of your pupils, to date. Teachers and their assistants should therefore have their usual teaching days and do nothing extra to prepare for an inspection, beyond speaking positively with inspectors and following your school’s policies.

I’ve emboldened the ‘nothings’, as they are so important for reducing Ofsted-teacher workload. Indeed, I argue that the inclusion of ‘teaching’ in the grade for ‘quality of teaching learning and assessment’ is unnecessary and redundant. It adds worry for leaders and thus adds work for teachers.

However, I go further than believing that leaders in schools should prepare for inspection, I firmly believe that leaders can take control of the process.

What this book will do is give you the best chance possible of inspection success.

Who is the book for? 

Taking control is for school leaders and anyone else with an interest in school inspection. Especially…

If you know you are leading ‘Good’ school (Grade 2, or G2); you know your staff are doing a good job day to day and your parents and pupils say the same, but your RAISE/ASP data may be suggesting a possibility of otherwise; this book is for you.

If you are leading a ‘Good’ school, but you have made improvements from your last inspection and you want your inspectors to recognise that and feel that you may now be an outstanding school; this book is for you.

If you feel you are leading an outstanding school, ostensibly exempt from inspection, doing amazing things, but are worried by your recent RAISE/ASP, or that recent events may preclude another Grade 1 (G1); this book is for you.

If you are leading a school that is Grade 3, or Grade 4 (G3, or G4) and you are improving from difficult times, but you need Ofsted to listen to what is now possible in the future; this book is also for you.

Taking control is also for Multi Academy Trusts and their board members, governors, Local Authority advisors, school improvement partners, Ofsted inspectors, teachers and TAs. Indeed anyone working in the education sector. It will help an enormous range of people facing an inspection in their school.

 Why should you invest in ‘Taking Control’?

  • An important piece of knowledge for all schools is that the interpretation of every single criterion in the inspection handbook, is subjective. It is down to the interpretation of your inspectors. That’s where this book can help.

  • The book will explain the intricacies of all the different grades in the Ofsted handbook and it links those handbook expectations to the data, via RAISEonline, or the new Analyse School Performance, or ASP, online information system.

  • The quality assurance process at Ofsted does not give either OIs, or HMIs, the freedom to write that a school is ‘Good’, or ‘Outstanding’ if the handbook criteria are not well enough satisfied and all HMI and lead OIs know this. But, it is possible for you to help them towards decisions by what you do before and during your inspection.

  • With the help of this book, you can cleverly help your lead OI/HMI to write the inspection report you would like to read. Inspectors are very well trained in the use of the handbook and to be blunt; you have to know that inspection handbook as well, if not better than your inspectors. Know it well enough to be able to quote from it to back your position and this book will help you to do that.

    Publication date is currently 3rd July and it will be published by John Catt Education, @JohnCattEd