Mon 5 Dec 2016. A call at 3 minutes to 8 meant that it was a rush to get to this particular school for a Year 3 class. I made it for half 8. I was here a couple of weeks ago and things have always gone ok at this school. The teacher was in – she was about to go on a course – and she had set everything up, including all worksheets and Smartboard slides. Very organised! I also had 2 TAs who would be taking out children to help with their individual needs.
The morning was calm, the children were really good and everything was going smoothly. Then just before lunch the Deputy came in and said that there may be a change of plan for the afternoon but that he would get back to me. Great, I thought. Then the teacher returned. She was supposed to be out all day. She ran into her stock cupboard and looked ill. I wondered whether she was poorly and had to abandon the course. Then she whispered something to me and it all became clear….the school had received the dreaded call – “The Big O were coming in!” [Ofsted, if it wasn’t obvious] They were to come in the next day for a 2 day visit. So she and her colleagues were pulled from the course and brought back to school. At lunchtime it was decided that it was very fortunate that I was in as she could get on with some of her curriculum work. It became clear as I watched staff scuttle about in the hour that stress levels had just reached breaking point.
The afternoon was fine and the children did some good RE work; in the meantime the teacher was in and out getting stuff ready. After school I stayed to mark all my work as thoroughly as possible as I didn’t want them to get any negative feedback on my part. Therefore I didn’t leave until ten to five, the latest I’ve left a school for a while. Though probably nowhere near as long as the staff there were going to stay! I felt so sorry for them!
Incidentally, their Ofsted inspection was a near miss for me but I HAVE done supply work during an Ofsted inspection before. About a year and a half ago I taught a nursery class for about 3 months in a school and followed that placement up with irregular supply in their other classes. On such day I was given advance notice to teach Nursery again. So in I strolled like I had no cares in the world to find everyone on panic stations as the Ofsted team were in. They had not told me and they did not cancel me because they needed to cover their NQTs for PPA time and be seen to have it covered with someone regular. In a change of plan then I was to teach in all 3 Reception classes throughout the day. I was assured that I would not be observed because they were told it as a supply in there. Yeah, right. I was observed for a phonics lesson! I had only seen the planning briefly and I didn’t know any of the children. She stayed for 15 minutes making notes. Later on the FS leader was mortified and came to apologise to me (it wasn’t her fault and she had other things to worry about!). But at lunchtime the HT and DHT stopped me in the corridor and said that the inspector really enjoyed my lesson delivery and wanted to see me after school to give me some positive feedback and that they (SMT) were delighted. When it came to it though, I thought no thanks and went home to leave everybody else to de-stress. This wasn’t me being cocky: I have been through about 9 Ofsteds in my career and always think that observing a lesson is so random. You may see me on a great day or see me on a rubbish day. And it was their Ofsted, not mine. I think they did fine by the way.