The call came through on the 4th June as we were in the middle of a monitoring visit by the head of our academy network. Ofsted were to pay us a visit the next day and pick over what we were doing.
Although not unexpected (as we have been expecting a visit since we opened in 2012) we were still shot through with shock for a few moments especially as we were currently in the midst of being monitored anyway.
That afternoon we galvanised into action and I will say I have never been around a staff body where everyone pulls together at the same time for the same thing. I met with my team and told them that I was not going to nanny them and to carry on doing what they had been, to make sure they have met with other staff to ensure there was continuity of support and service.
That Wednesday night was a later night than normal but due to us already being prepared for monitoring we all managed to leave at a reasonable time. I have known other schools to have staff working until the small hours but not here.
I personally could not sleep, this visit meant so much and I did not want to be the weak link. I was in work for 6am then next morning suited and booted as they say. During staff the staff briefing meeting that morning we were introduced to the 3 inspectors, we were ready to go. Stress and adrenaline took us through the morning, I was in some amazing lessons seeing amazing teaching and learning, I see this every day anyway but there was something else, a sharper edge the buzz that goes with such visits. The afternoon was much the same as the morning, my students were well behaved and did us all proud. The day ended with a quick debrief and getting ready for the next day. Again I could not sleep, I was keyed up for the final day and I walked into the building at 6.30am. That morning we were all ready to again once more into the breach. Lessons once again were excellent (in my opinion) and the students although tired from the day before were once again ready to show their best. By lunchtime we were all feeling it, the stress was pumping through our veins and we were all holding on to what we had to do for the afternoon.
We were all asked to stay behind to speak with the head once she had finished with the visitors. We sat in the staff rooms and waited and waited, picking over the last 2 days. There were some tears from some staff who had their feedback from the inspectors, some of these tears were of relief and some were of stress and some were where they felt they had let themselves down. We waited some more, until I saw the inspectors leave the building. I watched as they left and thought “this is it, no more we can do”.
The call came through for us to meet with SLT on the roof terrace. They had supped drinks and nibbles regardless of the outcome and we were to just go and celebrate getting through the 2 days. We made our way up and the wine was poured. The head explained that although they had the provisional grading she could not divulge as she could not afford to have it in the public domain until confirmation, but thanked us all for the work we had put in.
I then thanked my team, without them I would have not been able to do what we did alone.
I left not knowing how well we did but knowing that it was over and we could just get back to what we do best.
This is not my first Ofsted and it will not be my last but I thought I would share my observations.
I think you can tell a lot from a person to how much they pitch in when Ofsted are in, my team were fantastic and did over and above both days. However, there were some who thought they should just come in a do a job, leave on time and do not support those around them, not a team player. I also think that Ofsted create a stressful environment, creates self doubt and makes teachers vulnerable. The tears in the staff room showed this in all its glory on the final day.
I am glad it is all over.