It has been a busy period for Ofsted this week, Amanda Spielman launched her second Annual Report, which also coincided with Ofsted visiting Camden to discuss education as part of their regular and scheduled ‘catch up’. Interestingly, a number of the themes that the Chief Inspector outlined in her Annual Report, were picked up as part of our conversation with the two visiting inspectors, which included the obvious focus on standards across our system and themes/ feedback from recent inspections. It was an ideal opportunity for us to impress upon them and outline the Camden Learning model, our strands of work and local approach.

Ofsted used the opportunity to reinforce some of the messages from the Chief Inspector around effective schools and reducing the variability that exists, especially for those children who lag behind their peers; also quite rightly asking us about the degree of off-rolling that goes on, keeping pupils visible and the direct link to safeguarding. We were able to reassure and demonstrate that Camden is an inclusive Borough and share the good practice that exists across our schools, with the provision in place for those students who justifiably require an alternative pathway.

As you all know, Ofsted are preparing to consult on the new inspection framework and they are particularly keen to pilot framework and the Quality of Education criteria. They are inviting schools, that don’t have an imminent inspection, to consider volunteering to host a pilot inspection in the spring term and provide feedback on the framework and handbook itself. There will not be a report and it could most certainly be a useful feature in your own school’s development. Let me know if you are interested.

I will leave you with a poignant sentence that Amanda Spielman shared in her report;

‘Across the whole education sector a mentality of ‘what’s measured is what gets done’ trumps the true purpose of education, and curriculum thinking–the consideration of what needs to be taught and learned for a full education–has been eroded.’

A link to report is provided at the end of my blog.

One of the genuine pleasures of my job is getting out and about and visiting our schools, meeting the children, staff and governors. This week has provided some opportunities to celebrate the activities that go on in our schools. I began the week in Argyle and was struck immediately by the message to the school community about the importance of reading, not just for the children, but a timely reminder to us as parents and adults, that it is criminal, not to find the time to read for ourselves. The emphasis on oracy was a strong feature and what was evident was the pace and expectations from Jemima, around the importance of talk and setting the scene. Later in the week I visited Christ Church NW1 which was a real treat. A wonderful, vibrant environment, where the children were keen to welcome me and talk about their learning. As leaders, both Jemima and Paula demonstrate their commitment to ensure pupils are taught well and are clear about their true purpose of education, thank you for welcoming me into your schools.

On Thursday evening I joined a Camden Teach Meet, held at Eleanor Palmer, for an inspiring evening of sharing innovative teaching and learning and bite sized tips and approaches. There is something so special about the way our schools and teachers collaborate and learn from each other, a feature many other local areas aspire to replicate, but seem unable to seize the ‘je ne sais quoi’ ingredient.

I was reflecting on the concept of Leaders of Learning at the event too, where not only were scintillating teachers sharing their ‘Aladdin moments’, but also at least half the tables were led by either Head teachers and Deputy/ Assistant Heads sharing great practice and top tips. In an amongst the buzz, to name but a few, was Rob from Fitzjohns talking about the montage of options when using I-pads, Perina from Thomas Coram who brought to life forest schools through the EYFS Hub, James from Kentish Town sharing ideas on Daily Supported Reading and Becca (Fleet) and Sarah (Christ Church NW3) outlining the amazing Happiness Project. Thank you also, to the wonderful host Kate Frood for outlining approaches to interrupting the forgetting cycles. What a great evening-we all went away with a goody bag of ideas.

Ofsted Chief Inspector launches her second Annual Report on state of education and children’s care in England

Jon Abbey

Managing Director, Camden Learning

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