Well, last week we had a little visitation from Ofsted.. and I got ‘done’ during my year 11 GCSE Art Textiles lesson. I thought it was only right to share some of the key points of the feedback from the inspector from the half an hour she spent in my lesson.. pretty much the same as I would for exam moderation every year to support my fellow creative teachers.
Like anyone else, I always hope for an ‘outstanding’ grade from an observation (to be honest, I would’ve been happy with a ‘good’ considering how chaotic my year 11 lessons can be!) It would appear that on this occasion, I got something right and got the grade 1. However, It certainly wasn’t because I did anything particularly spectacular for the benefit of our visitors, far from it in fact – I just did my lessons as I normally would. Yes, I did spend some time writing out my own versions of the 5 minute lesson plan for each of my lessons across the 2 days. Okay, so I admit to spending slightly longer than 5 minutes on each plan, but I felt the need to colour them in too – it made me feel happy that I’d pinpointed the key aspects of the lesson (and they all looked prettier that way!) The key thing for me though was that I didn’t change anything that I was originally intending to teach.
The main aspects of the feedback for my lesson observation really demonstrated that actually we as creative arty types have the easiest tools to fit the Ofsted criteria, the 3 main aspects that were discussed are outlined below:
All students working on their own personal projects and towards their own outcomes – I am sure that this is mostly the same in all creative subjects, particularly at KS4 or KS5 level. All of my year 11 students were busy and working on their own coursework projects with a clear idea of what they were doing, where they were going and how to get there. It may well be the case that the good old pressure of the deadline came into play slightly (they have until Christmas to complete their work.) However, all students ‘being busy’ and feeling the pressure of the deadline helped to create a productive working atmosphere which was obviously seen as a big positive.
Well differentiated learning and targeted intervention – Because all of the students were working through their own projects, the lesson was essentially like 18 different lessons occurring simultaneously. This is something that occurs naturally in most art based subjects – the teacher has to have an amazing capacity to commit details of ALL students individual projects to memory so gentle coaxing and steering towards suitable outcomes can occur discreetly but with the student maintaining creative control. It was particularly commented that the assessment monitoring systems in place were a good way to identify students in need of intervention and students who would benefit from a gentle push towards the higher grade bands. All students in my group have their own personalised set of agreed targets from the start of the academic year when all work was scrutinised and graded. This has enabled students to work independently towards their outcomes over the course of the term, the monitoring of these targets takes place every lesson to assess progress. This lesson was no different to any other.
Individual tutorials for assessment – I favour an individual tutorial approach conducted during the lesson, rather than taking the sketchbooks in and taking them home to ‘mark’. Firstly, it is far more time efficient, but more importantly the tutorial method allows assessment criteria to be discussed with students with key aspects of their work pinpointed to explain where the evidence for their grade is. The students record the verbal feedback on a tutorial slip before continuing with the lesson. It may seem a simple, some might say a ‘work avoidance’ method of assessment, however, it was seen as being a truly personal approach to assessment. The tutorial method fully involves the students in the process rather than receiving assessment feedback without chance to discuss 1:1. The inspector particularly liked the fact that student assessment information was being updated on my tracking spread sheet as a result of each tutorial so that each student can see their progress in lessons contributing to their grade prediction as they work through their targets.
..And that’s about it. There were other elements of the feedback that picked up on the things that we know Ofsted are looking for; the style of questioning, behaviour, and student enthusiasm for learning to name but a few. However, the points outlined above seemed to me to be the easiest aspects to transfer across the key stages to support teachers of all creative subjects.
Even if you read this and think, “Yes, that sounds like what I do already”, then I hope that at the very least it has confirmed that you are doing a fabulous job as you are. I know that I can certainly learn from the feedback and will now endeavour to bring more of the positive elements from my KS4 and KS5 lessons into the design and planning of my KS3 lessons.