What that Ofsted clarification should have said!

There was much to welcome in the recent note of clarification from Ofsted, and may it be publicised widely. However, to my mind there is still much that wasn’t said that ought to be. Of course, whether the chiefs at Ofsted agree with me remains to be seen.

Here’s what I’d have liked to have seen:


  • Ofsted should not expect to see lessons differentiated a set number of ways. Inspectors are interested in whether or not the work is an appropriate challenge for all pupils; the number of groups within this will depend on the circumstances. Not all lessons require differentiation.
  • Ofsted should not expect to see children writing learning objectives. While it is often important that objectives are shared with children, nothing is added by forcing the copying of them at length.
  • Ofsted should not expect to see written evidence of all lessons in exercise books. Some lessons do not require written evidence; writing in learning objectives, or explanations of what was undertaken in a lesson is an unnecessary waste of time.

Marking & Target-setting

  • Ofsted should not expect to see evidence of marking of every piece of work. It is for schools to decide appropriate policies for marking and feedback, and the focus should be on impact, rather than evidence for outside bodies.
  • Ofsted should not expect to see written marking in the books of children for whom reading is at a very early stage. If it cannot directly impact on a child’s learning then it is time and effort poorly-spent.
  • Ofsted should not expect children to be able to recite their targets in every subject. While it is important that children know how to improve their work, there are many ways in which this can be achieved.
  • Ofsted should not expect children to know their ‘level’ in any subject.
  • Ofsted should not expect schools to update tracking data every six weeks (or other fixed interval). Tracking is not the same as assessment, and while on-going assessment is essential for effective teaching, tracking is only an administrative tool for leaders. Tracking should be as frequent as needed for effective leadership of the school, and no more frequent.


  • Ofsted should not expect to see identical consistency across all classrooms in a school. Departments and year teams quite rightly adapt school approaches to suit the needs of their subjects or pupils.
  • Ofsted should not expect pupils in measured groups to be identified in any way in the classroom. Students eligible for the Pupil Premium, or in local authority care should not be differentiated publicly.

It’s not an unreasonable list, is it? I will, naturally, waive all copyright demands should Ofsted wish to copy my ideas and add them to their document!

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2 thoughts on “What that Ofsted clarification should have said!

  1. David Didau 20 October 2014 at 11:07 pm Reply

    And, Ofsted should not expect to see spreadsheets with the results of graded lesson observations reporting the percentages of lessons that are considered outstanding, good etc.

  2. […] October saw the launch of the DfE’s Workload Challenge survey, and Ofsted released its clarification document (along with a consultation on more major changes to inspection). The DfE also announced the Early […]

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