Ofsted, this is how we do it!
My first experience of Ofsted
Even as a secondary pupil (a long time ago) I knew the importance of Ofsted to schools. I remember my teachers at secondary school, holding their breaths from the moment Ofsted arrived and releasing a sigh of relief when they left. As an NQT, I expected to also feel this way and to some extent I did… but, not entirely.
Following a restful Easter break, I returned to Leeds East Academy raring to go. My year 10s greeted me with big smiles in the morning and the pupils across the school were relaxed and happy to be back at school. During period five, Miss Manners popped her head in to my lesson, my class were assiduously completing a red zone task when Miss Manners walked over to me and whispered in my ear, “We got the call!” I was shocked, but she looked at me beaming; she could probably sense the fear that I had as the flashbacks hit me – I recalled the stressed-out and exhausted teachers at my secondary school. But, before she closed my door to leave, she reassuringly said “Miss Lambert, remember, this is how we do it!” and with that she left.
I knew that as an NQT, Ofsted would want to visit and observe us to ensure that we are well-supported during our NQT year and this was when my nerves started to set in. My mentor, Mrs Lennon, came to me as soon as she heard to go over my lessons and reassure me that ‘we got this!’ At the end of the school day, the English team huddled together and I expected that there would be an air of worry and anxiety, but our Head of Department, Mrs Barton, reassured us that we should do what we do every single day. Following this, we had a whole staff briefing; I braced myself for a long and exhausting evening at school of marking, printing and lesson planning but Mrs Carrie was clear and implored us to, ‘Do what you do every day!’ and to get a restful evening. I went back over my lessons for the following day as I usually would; I printed my resources as I usually would; marked ten books as I usually would and left school at the time I usually would. I was ready.
What makes me so proud to work at Leeds East Academy is the comradery amongst staff; when the tough gets going, the team pull together regardless of their subject or job role. When Ofsted arrived, there was a buzz amongst the staff to show Ofsted exactly how we do it and the reasons why we do what we do. You see, Leeds East Academy is positioned in one of the most deprived areas in England and we do not shy away from this. When Ofsted arrived, they explored the surrounding area and knew what the teachers, pastoral team, attendance team and admin team were working with in the surrounding community.
During the Ofsted inspection, myself, Mr Major, Miss Clarke and Miss Cheetham had the opportunity to represent the NQTs, ITTs and RQTs within our academy. The experience of speaking with an Ofsted inspector and the opportunity to inform him of everything our school does for the pupils and the local community will be something I will never forget.
When I interviewed for Leeds East Academy, Mrs Carrie asked me why I wanted to work there and for me this was clear: firstly, children living in deprived communities deserve to have outstanding teachers – they are not their social deprivation; instead, they are brilliantly funny, intelligent, loving, kind and grateful individuals who are eager to learn. I knew from day one at LEA that these were the children I wanted to support, inspire and create a solid foundation of knowledge, skills and passion for. Secondly, the vision for Leeds East Academy was clear, we are on a journey to outstanding. Teachers who work in deprived areas, such as ours, are working tirelessly to ensure that these children are given the same opportunities as children from wealthier backgrounds. Thirdly, Mrs Carrie believes that the heart of the community is a school and that in order for a community to thrive, the school must do what it can to elevate those expectations and serve the community it surrounds by any means possible.
Prior to the inspection, Leeds Easy Academy was a ‘requires improvement’ school, but today, Leeds East Academy is a ‘GOOD’ school and I am very proud to say that I have been a part of that success. More importantly, I am proud that this school is situated in a deprived area because all children, from all background and walks of life, deserve to have the equal opportunities of their wealthier peers and have a life that is filled with choice, knowledge, skill and passion.