The Michaela Inspection Result Is Good News for Everyone

Ofsted have a lot of blood on their hands. In the very recent past, they were a progressive inquisition, striking fear into the hearts of teachers who actually wanted to teach. But they have been working to dispel this image, publishing a myth-busting document and engaging on social media to answer questions and promote their claim that no particular teaching style is preferred by inspectors.

Many of us remain skeptical, including the folks at Michaela. I attended the very first Michaela day of debates, in which Katie Ashford argued passionately for the abolition of Ofsted. At that time, of course, the school had never received an inspection.

So this question has been hanging over the school, as they have courageously pursued methods and policies that are entirely focused on helping everyone acquire knowledge and develop self discipline. Would an Ofsted inspector be able to stomach this wholehearted, unapologetically traditional approach? However much the likes of Sean Harford claimed that the inspection body had changed, the Michaela inspection was going to be a litmus test.

Now we can celebrate with them, because they have been awarded ‘Outstanding’ in every area. This in no way proves that they are outstanding. Any of us who have experienced the games and tricks employed by senior managers to obtain that coveted classification will be convinced that there are many mediocre to poor schools which have been labelled this way. The proof that Michaela actually is an outstanding school is there before the eyes of the many people who have visited, as I did two years ago, and spoken to the knowledgeable, polite, happy and confident pupils with which Michaela is filled.

Michaela actually is outstanding. Whatever Ofsted say, that is the truth. But the fact that they have been graded thus is good news for all of us, because it is a fantastic argument which ordinary teachers can use with their senior leadership every time they are asked to do something time consuming which doesn’t actually promote learning.

So next time you’re asked to mark with three different colours, you can point to the Michaela Ofsted report and politely indicate that they don’t mark books at all. Next time you’re told to introduce more group work to promote ‘active learning’, you can point to the Michaela Ofsted report and calmly point out that their pupils make fantastic progress with whole class direct instruction.

Never again should we accept the non-argument that has been used by so many senior leaders across the country to promote so many anti-educational, time-consuming, morale-destroying practices: ‘Ofsted are looking for this’.

No, they’re not. And they’ve proved it.

Further reading:

Can Ofsted Be Reformed?

My Experience of Ofsted Madness

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3 thoughts on “The Michaela Inspection Result Is Good News for Everyone

  1. While I certainly agree that the inspection result is a cause for celebration and it clearly sets a precedent for schools that want to follow suit, I wouldn’t be so sure that we’ve seen the last of the purple pen of progress, differentiation or collaboration. In his last book before he died (A Desolation of Learning), Chris Woodhead tacitly admitted that he was unable to make much impact on Ofsted, and that at time of writing it was ‘the most lethal’ arm of the blob. We should never forget that inspectors vary considerably in their educational philosophy and that this will inevitably colour their judgments no matter what their official brief may be. Nor should we forget that most of them are refugees from the classroom (rather like a lot of senior managers), and are apt to have post-graduate degrees in education.

    We should also bear in mind that Katherine is a most formidable head who has prospered despite innumerable setbacks and some of the most vitriolic abuse imaginable. It would take a very brave inspector to take issue with what is obviously a school that will be setting a standard that others–including Ark and Harris–will find very difficult to match.

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