Ofsted inspections just create a false picture that doesn’t truly reflect a school’s strengths

Benjamin Clarke
Benjamin Clarke

As many will know only too well, when Ofsted come into school, they inspect every aspect of the school that could impact upon the students’ education, writes Benjamin Clarke.

The general rule of practice is that Ofsted will notify the school of its inspection at around midday on the working day before the start of the inspection.

This gives the school limited time to warn staff and students of the upcoming inspection.

Once at school, Ofsted can be at school for one or two days, subject to the school’s rating.

However, the question I am asking is how does Ofsted affect the students, and how does the report reflect the reality of a child’s education in school?

From my personal experience, Ofsted causes an overwhelming sense of anxiety for all involved.

After all, nobody likes to be told they are under-performing.

An artificial environment is created as soon as the big day begins and the whole school is on high alert.

Teachers set the bar high and lessons were created to the highest quality, but that is where the problems lie as this ultimately means an unnatural situation where lessons take place within an enforced silence and a peculiar atmosphere.

Unavoidably, lessons are purposely tweaked to meet Ofsted’s requirements and are deprived of personality and vibrancy to fit Ofsted’s stringent standards in the name of perfection.

This may seem like a positive for the students, allowing for a more concentrated working environment – but I do not think this is the best way to access developing minds.

Such a vacuum of creativity leads to a robotic feel, where students operate in a forced environment, being led down a path towards having a robot-like mentality.

Is this really a desirable learning environment?

The two-day inspection had left me feeling exhausted, so I cannot imagine how the teachers must feel.

In reality, if these lessons that Ofsted idolise so much were effective every day, then both students’ and teachers’ mental and physical capabilities would deteriorate, leaving students uninspired.

As a student nearing the end of secondary education, I have developed my own opinion of how the best lessons have been taught.

For a student, the best lessons involve discussion and reaction, where humour is allowed and expression of opinion is welcome.

Students should also be able to talk to the teacher when in need and not feel like a teacher has become a victim of the perfect lesson plan.

I would argue the key to a truly outstanding school is to treat the students as regular human beings – and not computerised machines with identical personalities.

Ofsted should inspect how teachers align with their students, matching their personalities and teaching methods to suit the students.

Ratings shouldn’t be the only report that defines how a school is perceived – making it a less stressful experience – thus allowing for a realistic perspective of the school to be given.