I received the following letter from Greg who works in the south of England:
” I’m an ICT specialist. I teach Year 5 and 6 children to code iPhone apps. I was known throughout the authority for my subject knowledge in ICT.
Anyway, we were inspected in December 2010. I was watched teaching ICT to Year 4. During the lesson, the inspector commented on how he had never seen this particular bit of software before and didn’t know what it did.
After the lesson he said, “That was a good lesson.”
I relaxed, happy with what was said. He then went on to say, “Your subject knowledge was good.”
I said, “Can I stop you there? Why was my subject knowledge ‘good’ and not ‘outstanding’, when you’d never heard of the programme I was teaching?”
His response destroyed me. He said, “My subject knowledge isn’t good enough to say whether yours is ‘outstanding’ or not.”
Naturally, I complained to OFSTED. They did not uphold my complaint, so I asked for an appeal and this time my complaint was upheld and the inspector’s comments were called “flippant and inappropriate”.
Anyway, this knocked me for six. I am an ICT specialist – I’m really good at what I do. I couldn’t see how one person could belittle all my hard work with one stupid comment. I was referred to occupational health by my supportive head teacher.
It’s been nearly 2 years, and typing this has raised my blood pressure to dangerous levels…
Maybe it’s trivial, but my argument is: “What right do you have to judge me?”. I’ve moved on from that school and am now a deputy head but I have sworn I will never let an inspector watch me teach again.
As a slight aside, my old head is also an inspector. He was on a training course for inspectors recently about the new framework for school inspections. When it was announced to the gathered inspectors, he heard a number of them making comments like, “They’re stuffed now”.
So it’s not paranoia, they really are out to get us… “
I asked Greg:
“So, on your second appeal to Ofsted, they did take you seriously? You say it knocked you for six, but to be fair to Ofsted for a split second , in the end they agreed with your view?”
“Yes, in the end… One appeals guy agreed with me. But it was a very guarded admission…
I’ve since sent them Freedom of Information requests asking how much it cost to deal with my complaint etc…
Ultimately, I wanted the inspector to apologise. He wouldn’t, or they wouldn’t let him.”
I asked Greg:
“So how much of this can I put into a blog? I can disguise names, place etc…and then put it up.
I would call it something like ‘Teacher writes of encounter with Ofsted’ or some such.”
“Whatever you want… Ultimately, this is more about “who’s judging us” than anything else…
I can’t say what I want, I’ll get sacked and I have a wife and 3 kids to support!!
As long as it’s not clearly me, I’m happy for it to be out there.
It still eats at me now. I’m fed up of it all. We work tirelessly for these kids to be criticised for everything by people who don’t have the knowledge necessary.