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Sean Whetstone, Chair of Governors, on his recent Ofsted inspection

Sean Whetstone, Chair of Governors, on his recent Ofsted inspection

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Sean Whetstone

Part One – Ofsted calling!

I had been Chair of Governors for exactly 100 days and still finding my feet when Ofsted called!

I was in my Head Teacher’s office having our regular Chair of Governors and Head Teacher meeting on Thursday 14th January 2010.  It was our first meeting of the New Year – we had just finished discussing safeguarding and we started discussing a possible pending Ofsted inspection.

I said I felt I needed to know more about the new Ofsted framework to understand my role in the inspection.  We spent less than five minutes discussing Ofsted when the phone rang. 

The Head turned to me and said “Wouldn’t  this be funny if that was Ofsted calling”.  Her face went pale and she quickly wrote Ofsted on her pad and lifted it up for me to see.  She wasn’t joking!

Ofsted were giving us notice to inspect us on Monday 18th and Tuesday 19th of January which was less than 4 days away!

Panic was my first thought and excitement was second.  I knew our Self Evaluation Form (SEF) and School Improvement Partner (SIP) had been marked as outstanding.

However, I’ve heard so many horror stories about previously outstanding or good schools being marked down or special measures being put in under the new framework.  It made me scared.

In our own confederation, one previously good school was put into special measures and another had been graded as satisfactory so I knew these stories weren’t just urban myths.

As Chair I dedicated my weekend to memorising the new SEF, SIP reports, Head Teacher reports, School Development Plan, Full Governing Body minutes, committee minutes, Safeguarding monitoring, governor visit reports, governor training records and RAISE online data.

I know governors are not expected to memorise all this information. However, I felt would be a good use of my time and make me much better prepared if I didn’t need to refer to folders and papers all the time during my Chair of Governor’s interview.

It was time well spent; not only did I learn more about the schoo,l but looking at these papers combined gave me a new perspective.  Often these papers are read in isolation and things are lost. 

It also took my mind off the inspection and stopped me driving my family mad.  I also decided to take two days off work and be based onsite at the school for the whole inspection. 

I know everyone can’t do this but I figured it is only two days every three years so I didn’t mind taking the days as annual leave from work.

So, Ofsted sent us a Pre-Inspection Briefing on the Friday and it initially scared us.  The problem is you can read too many things into these briefings which just aren’t there.

We began analysing our attainment figures and we reviewed our community cohesion…..

Part 2 coming soon – The Inspection and Judgement Day.

If you are due an Ofsted inspection soon I’d be happy to answer any questions or give advice.
Sean Whetstone Chair of Governors
Polesden Lacey Infant School

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  • Paul McElvaney
    Posted at 14:53h, 02 March Reply

    Hey Sean,
    Great blog and welcome to Modern Governor – looking forward to part 2!

  • Jabulani
    Posted at 15:17h, 02 March Reply

    I follow Sean on Twitter and was very interested to see him tweet about the inspection, partly because our school was due one at the same time, but also because we had an Ofsted 60-odd days after I became Chair of Governors way back in 2006. I’m now Vice Chair and when our school got the Ofsted call, I immediately contacted Sean for some pointers. His help was invaluable and reinforced what 5 years of being a governor has taught me. It also meant I was able to split the workload between the 3 governors who were to meet with the inspectors. We were then able to present information in our “areas of expertise”, thus showing inspectors how we can work as a body. Thanks Sean, it made the process so much easier for us! I’m looking forward to Part 2 … will be interesting to see if we had similar experiences!

  • Elaine Walton
    Posted at 16:15h, 02 March Reply

    Great post Sean – and Jabulani, thanks for your comments too!

    This is exactly what we were hoping for – that people would share their experiences on here and spread the word about good/best practices. I can’t wait for part 2 either!

    All the best

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