A history teacher preparing lessons for Ofsted Inspection
Next week we will be involved in an Ofsted and as such i have been getting my lesson plans together for the possibility of an observation. As regular readers will know I ‘loves a caveat early doors’ and here is todays; I do not profess to be an expert on Ofsted, I am not trying to give out guidelines, but simply to offer my reflections. I have been observed once by Ofsted in 2010 and I am using that experience, along with advice from many people, to help me write this short blog post.
1) Focussing on Progress
I have really tried to focus on progress in my lesson planning. This is obviously from the start to the end of the lesson but also for each of the parts of the lesson. My old Head of Faculty once said “as soon as they walk in do a mini-plenary” and whilst this might have been partly a joke, I believe it is sound advice. Ofsted are only ‘in’ the lesson for a short period so it important that they can see the progress that has already been made or is made in that time. The easiest way to do this is to have lots of mini-plenaries built into the lesson plan.
2) Pick activities that you are familiar with and your students love
The lessons I have planned for the Ofsted contain elements and activities that the students know and have done before in another guise. When planning the lesons I have included activities that I (and the students) know work really well. I don’t believe an Ofsted inspection is time to try something completely new. Others might disagree but I feel that if you have taught an activity before and it has gone well then there is a reasonable expectation that it will be successful again. If the students are doing an activity they have done before and enjoyed they will be far more engaged and focused. There will also be less chance of them getting confused or mis-understanding.
An example of this is an activity I have used before which involves ‘building’ a conclusion using different cards to represent each factor; the higher off the table the card is the more important it is. Students complete several cards (each with a different factor on) and then construct them into a kind of tower using blu tac.
A Card building activity from Year 7 based around the causes of the Peasants Revolt
A card building activity from Year 8 about the reasons soldiers carried on fighting in WWIThe students place key words on the front of the cut up cards and place explanations (written or visual) on the back.
Here is a completed ‘building’ on the causes of US involvement in Vietnam from GCSE
I know that this activity was successul and that the students loved it. They were also able to be creative and the resulting conclusions were well thought out and of a high level. When I told one of my Year 8 classes we were doing this activity next week they all went “Yes!” What that said about the lesson that they were currently being taught I don’t know! However, I do know that they will come into the lesson engaged and looking forward to it.
You can also see from this that both my Year 7 and Year 8 lessons will be doing, in part, a very similar activity. The content and level will be different but the resources similar. This has really helped my planning work load. Once the Year 8 lesson was planned it was easier to plan the Year 7 one.
I think that if I focus on progress and pick activities I know my students love then I will give myself every chance of having a successful lesson whether I am visited by Ofsted or not. I guess too that these are not bad principles for any lesson.