This week, Camden Learning hosted a session for primary heads and senior leaders on the subject of early reading and phonics, which was led by the knowledgeable Davina Salmon from Little Wandle English Hub (12 Camden schools are part of this hub). It was a really valuable session for leaders as we were able to understand more about the announcement from DfE that the 2007 Letters and Sounds will no longer be a DfE validated systematic synthetic phonics programme from Spring 2022. The session explored what schools need to do to ensure the fidelity to one programme including the need to be Ofsted ready with regards to the early reading agenda. The session also delved into the publication of the Reading Framework: teaching the foundations of literacy which outlines guidance to schools on the teaching of early reading.
Last week, a head sent me the brilliant blog from Rob Carpenter (The Ofsted Show Is Back On The RoadClimbing The Hill – Rob Carpenter’s Blog ) aptly titled, ‘The Ofsted show is back on the road’. I know of colleagues in neighbouring boroughs and counties where Ofsted arrived in week two and three of the new term and as the blog states, you might well be forgiven for questioning a global pandemic had ever happened or that schools might need some time to embed routines and expectations after the disruption of the last 18 months. I have already attended a number of standards meetings where inevitably we talk about Ofsted, the timeframes and the nuances around the additions to the 2019 framework.
In a week when the impact of Covid and the demands of modern life are affecting record breaking numbers of young people, the Good Childhood Report identified a growing trend of lowlife satisfaction in young people including increasing dissatisfaction amongst young people with school and formal education, greater anxiety caused by exams and worries about their appearance and increased levels of low life well-being. So, adding to our collective anxiety, we are trying to work out when Ofsted might arrive in a Camden school, Ofsted seem to be targeting outstanding schools and long time good schools, however, what their strategy and time table quite looks like, is anyone’s guess. I agree with and accept healthy, proportionate accountability, however, as Rob states, ‘The English education system is accountability obsessed; it is a ‘one golf-club’ approach to school improvement which makes inspection high stakes, leaving schools perpetually vulnerable’.
What I have picked up during my attendance at the many standards meetings is that, our schools have done a quite remarkable job over the last 18 months, holding together their communities, continuing to deliver high quality education whilst dealing with increasing COVID cases and actually keeping the critical show on the road. On the 15th October Mike Sheridan who is the London Regional Director for Ofsted, has agreed to come and talk about the framework, and to hold a question and answer session, which I think will be extremely valuable. I know Mike well and appreciate him making himself available for a Q&A and he will share the learning from early inspections as well as be frank about expectations.
A reminder about the ‘Walk Buds’ project which is seeking special schools with an age range of 9-19 year olds with emotional and learning disabilities to take part in the Baily Thomas Charitable Foundation funded project “Walk Buds” that is taking place in Belfast and London. Any special schools that are interested in taking part, please contact Angela.Hassiotis@camden.gov.uk.
Managing Director of Camden Learning