When I started my teacher training, I had this perception that OFSTED inspections were this daunting experience and that everyone in the teaching profession dreaded this process. I think I was naive to the fact that actually, when OFSTED visit a school- it is a chance to celebrate a school’s progression and shout about the positive changes being made in order to gain a ‘Good’ or an even better OFSTED judgement.
Throughout the last term, there had been a huge push on preparations for an upcoming inspection. Whether it was the marking of exercise books, updating of challenge charts, tidying and organising of the learning environment or even brushing up on vital information like safeguarding or attendance. There was definitely a buzz about LWA and everyone could feel it. As the weeks went by, we discussed within the department about when we would be receiving the call to say OFSTED were coming. Each day passed and we heard nothing. But then, Leeds East Academy got their call and we knew it was on the horizon. It could only be a matter of weeks before it was our turn and without fail, on Tuesday 14th & Wednesday 15th May 2019, it was our time to shine.
I’m not really sure what I had expected to feel knowing OFSTED would be visiting but I was honestly so excited. I had put so much work into my personal preparation for OFSTED. Whether it was improving my exercise books in terms of support and challenge for my students, developing my marking methods or creating engaging and informative displays for around the PE department, I was looking forward to putting into practice what we as a team had prepared for.
Tuesday came and I arrived at school buzzing with energy, we didn’t really know what curriculum areas would be observed or what lines of enquiry OFSTED would choose to follow- but we were ready whatever happened. During period 2, when teaching my Year 13 BTEC sport class, in came the lead inspector, clip board in hand- ready to observe me. I can’t lie, my belly flipped, my voice went wobbly and in came the nerves. Somehow, I went on as normal, taught my lesson, answered a range of probing questions and with a smile on his face, he left. The feedback I received was intensely positive and he ended by saying that ‘my confidence and ease of teaching was brilliant and he wouldn’t have known I was an NQT’. I was absolutely beaming.
I was also selected to be part of meeting with one of the inspectors on the second morning of the inspection. This meeting was a chance for us to speak about our experiences of being an NQT at LWA and also what was provided for us in terms of support from the beginner teacher programme. It was a fantastic opportunity and I really enjoyed it, it was a chance for us to celebrate everything we loved about LWA and give OFSTED an insight into a day in the life of a NQT. What I found immensely positive about this meeting, was that when the inspector had asked all of his questions- he finished by thanking us all and wishing us well in our future careers. He really cared for what we had to say and it felt good to be a vital part of this inspection.
Embarrassingly enough when we found out the OFSTED result (‘Good’ across ALL areas), my eyes started to water and before I knew it- there I was crying my eyes out. I do not really know what brought on the tears, maybe it was the fact that Christian was genuinely so grateful for all our hard work or maybe it was the shear fatigue from the two day inspection. Whichever one it was, it felt fantastic to be told that we were now a ‘good’ school and I have never been more proud to be a member of staff at Leeds West Academy.
Next stop: OUTSTANDING!!!