Teacher Talk

John Hartley has been the head of Saffron Walden County High School in Essex since January 2004
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The Independent Online

What do you think of the Ofsted reform that will shorten reports on schools to between four and six pages?

What do you think of the Ofsted reform that will shorten reports on schools to between four and six pages?

Short reports are an improvement, as they will be clearer, and the important things will be highlighted. Also, reports will be produced more quickly and will cost less money.

What do you think about the other Ofsted reform that will shorten inspectors' visits to two days, and give schools less notice of an inspection?

You'll never be able to remove the stress from the inspection process. When you're a teacher and someone visits your class, it's human nature to find it stressful. The shorter notice is sensible because it probably will reduce the worry, but those 48 hours before an inspection are likely to be highly stressful. The reform will certainly reduce the work that goes into preparing for an inspection and the unnecessary lengths to which some schools go.

What do you think about another reform that encourages parents to write to inspectors giving their views on standards in a school?

Currently, all parents are invited to a meeting to talk to the inspector. In addition, they can write to the inspectors, so that's not a significant change. If parents are, for example, concerned about the quantity of homework being set - too much or too little - the inspectors would take note and look at it themselves. The views of parents are important, and help in raising issues for inspectors to examine. But Ofsted's conclusions are based on evidence, not opinions.

How do you feel about the emphasis in the reforms on a school inspecting itself?

A very good school should be one that is constantly reviewing its own standards, particularly the learning and teaching in the classroom. That should be an ongoing process. As I understand the reforms, a key element will be the inspection of a school's internal review processes. The best schools are constantly reviewing their own processes anyway, in a robust and efficient manner, and using those results to improve.

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