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Changing opinion on Ofsted, 'good lessons', deputies, and more

21 September 2022

As normal service resumes (touch wood!) after another odd start to the school year, we’ve taken the opportunity to delve back in the Teacher Tapp archives to see how views are changing (or not) on Ofsted, lessons, deputy heads, and pay.

1. Changing opinions on Ofsted?

We’ve been asking your opinions on Ofsted for FIVE YEARS. That’s longer than the current Inspection Framework has existed (published 2019) and matches the term of the Chief Inspector (appointed January 2017).

So what’s changed?

TBF, few of you have ever strongly agreed that Ofsted ‘acts as a reliable and trusted arbiter of standards across all different types of schools’ and this year is similar to last. Although there was a brief high in 2019 (just after the introduction of the EIF) when 19% agreed, this dropped to 13% by 2021 and 12% this year. At the same time, strong disagreement is on the rise (up 4 percentage points since 2021, and 8 percentage points since 2019) .

Chart: Ofsted acts as a reliable and trusted arbiter of standards across all different types of schools in England

The dissatisfaction isn’t universal though. Considerably more of you working in primary schools disagree or strongly disagree about the inspectorate’s reliability.

Chart: Ofsted acts as a reliable and trusted arbiter of standards across all different types of schools in England

BUT WAIT! Surely how your own school has been judged impacts on how you in turn judge Ofsted? Yes, yes it does. But perhaps not quite as much as you might think. Whilst levels of disagreement go down if you got a good outcome, it is telling that levels of agreement barely budge – regardless of what category you’re in.

Chart: Ofsted acts as a reliable and trusted arbiter of standards across all different types of schools in England

Despite opinions on reliability requiring improvement (sorry – we couldn’t resist) there are an increasing number of you who would consider becoming an Ofsted inspector. Up 6 percentage points from 2020.

Chart: Would you ever consider becoming an Ofsted inspector?

There’s also a MASSIVE amount of you expecting an inspection. Whilst there have been a lot of limitations on inspections over the past couple of years, it seems questionable that Ofsted has the capacity to inspect the 48% of you that feel an inspection is ‘very likely’ in the next academic year.

Chart: Do you think your school will have an Ofsted inspection?

2. Good lessons

Keeping to a bit of an Ofsted theme… what do you think a ‘good lesson’ should include? We put a bit of a list together, but around half of you didn’t think any of these items were essential components of ‘good.’

There does seem to be an Ofsted influence though… If you work in an Ofsted graded ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’ school, you were more likely to believe there wasn’t any essential component that a good lesson should include compared to those in an Ofsted category.

Chart: Which of the following do you feel a 'good lesson' should have?

Back to the detail!

From our list, retrieval practice was the top answer overall, and was especially popular among secondary teachers (60%). We did have a hypothesis that retrieval practice might have increased in popularity since we last asked this question in 2019, but actually there is very little difference.

Whilst the opportunity for students to undertake some individual work was common in both primary (44%) and secondary (45%) schools, pair or group work is a pedagogical separator between the phases. It was mentioned by 42% of primary teachers (up from 33% in 2019) but only 22% of secondary (up from 15% in 2019.)

Chart: Which of the following do you feel a 'good lesson' should have?

3. I shot the sheriff, but I didn’t shoot the…

Apologies for the earworm! We’re obviously not thinking about sheriffs in the blog this week, but deputies. Deputy headteachers that is.

Unlike heads, most deputies have at least some timetabled classes, especially in secondary schools.

Chart: How often does your headteacher / deputy headteacher teach?

Does it make a difference how many deputies you have? First off, we checked how many deputy headteachers there are in your school. For primaries, 6 in 10 have one, and 2 in 10 have none. As you might expect, the picture’s different in secondaries where there are most commonly two (and in 28% of cases three or more.)

Chart: How many deputy headteachers does your school have?

We checked this back against the hours you said they taught (or not!) And… there was no relationship. The main predictor of how many deputies you have is the size of the school. Yup, sometimes the simplest answer is the best!

4. Salary Expectations

With purse strings tightening, how much is an extra hour of teaching time worth? Back in 2019, 37% of you said no amount of money would make you take an extra hour. Now, times are tougher: only 31% said you wouldn’t do it regardless of the money. (Note: we didn’t have the option of doing it for free in 2019!)

Chart: minimum salary increase in exchange for extra teaching time

And if we pose the question the other way around (i.e. a pay reduction to gain non-teaching time)? Again, a small but clearly visible move toward bringing home the cash.

Chart: maximum salary reduction for fewer teaching hours

5. And one last chart…

Finally, here’s a quick chart at the request of Jonathan Mountstevens, who hypothesised that there would be a preference toward a 3-year KS4 amongst maths and science teachers… and he was half right! 45% of science teachers would – all else being equal – prefer to teach at a school where their GCSEs course starts in Year 9. Maths teachers though were not really bothered!

Chart for Mr Mountstevens

Got a question you’re burning to have answered? Find us on Twitter or email us

Finally… we know you love the daily read, so here are the ones from last week

The most read tip from the past week was: The power of warmstrict in the classroom

And here’s the rest for your reference: