Thursday, 20 March 2014

Section 48 Inspection - Part 2: The Day

The Night Before

We took all our department documents down to the headteacher's office. This was over 10 folders including all schemes of work, department handbook, open evening folder, intervention folder, support and monitoring file... literally everything.

Additionally there were about 10 books from each Key Stage 3 year group, 10 Key Stage 4 folders and 10 Key Stage 5 folders. They had asked for 'top-middle-bottom' and, as much as was logistically possible, we provided this.

The headteacher had kindly given over her office to the inspection team for the day so they had a spacious and central location in which to base themselves. We got it all set up and left for an early night... (well I went to #TMLondonBus!)

The Morning

As per usual, I was in just before 7am. I double checked my last few books and took them down to the headteachers office... as I was returning to my desk I noticed that at the front door was the lead inspector and his 'shadow' (who was undertaking training). It was just before 7.10am and they were here and I was on my own!

I welcomed them and showed them to their base, made them coffee and offered them toast. They were happy enough and they sat down to discuss the final timetable and start going through the documentation. At this point it became clear that the other inspector would be observing further lessons and I had expected two observations but now had three...

Before school various short meetings happened with the RE Subject Leader and Headteacher followed by the chaplain and link governor. The lead was thorough in getting his understanding of RE and the ethos of the school before going near the RE classroom.

All three of the RE staff had PPA during period one, so there was a little breathing/panic time!

My Lessons

Being observed three times in a day creates an unimaginable stress. With OFSTED there is that adrenalin pumping wondering if they will arrive or not... with S48, you know in advance; it's an unavoidable inevitability. Having experienced both, I'd prefer OFSTEDs surprise method, especially as statistically you are still more unlikely to be seen than seen!

First up was my lovely, lovely Year 7 class. They got seen by OFSTED and of any class I teach, they just sparkle and buzz in all the right ways! In my nine years of teaching, they are one of the classes that stick out in my mind as being a joy to teach and I always look forward to their lesson. They were properly prepared, even trying out the room where we going to have the lesson (we had several room changes as I teach in 17 different rooms all over the school).

The lesson was based on the early Church, post-Pentecost, looking at the actions of the disciples, the healing of the lame man by Peter and some of the repercussions for early Christians. The lead inspector arrived for the second half of the lesson (25mins) and spent his whole time looking at books (he must have looked around 20 out of the 30) and spoke to a large number of students about the lesson, about RE, about their prior learning, about their enjoyment of the subject and so on. The students were brilliant, as they always are in our lessons. I really wanted to make it clear that this was so typical... their behaviour, focus, enthusasm was just the same as normal. Plus my lesson was actually exactly the same as I taught it last year. The only difference is that I had a pack of data for the inspector that he took away to scrutinise. Also Section 48 still demands a lesson plan and copy of resources.

The lesson with my Year 10 Set 2 was a new lesson I devised purely as the media questions on the EdExcel spec needed further time spent on them. It was an odd set up whereby I had been given additional TA support, plus inspector, plus shadow inspector, plus 30 students. This made it a little cosy! The two inspectors were there for the full 50 mins and literally left "no stone unturned" in regards to folders, marking and student opinion. We had some great discussion, good reflection on the role of the media and it's portrayal of families, particularly religious ones. Everyone made great progress and I was happy. As predicted, again, the girls were brilliant: focused, charming and involved.

Period 4 was CP (Citizenship & PHSE) and it was my House Feast Day, so we had Mass. One of the inspectors concelebrated which was a nice touch. The other visited Y9 and Y8 lessons, arranged only at break time, delivered by non-RE staff. This was the warning that been given to all staff the day before; "it could be you" for CP.

The inspectors spent lunch in the dining hall with students and then meeting the school council and, other groups of students. The rest of the Department breathed a slight sigh of relief as their two observations were over. I had my third and final one to go with Y13...

Given the inspectors both being priests, I decided to add some explicit Catholic links to my lesson on Donovan's article from the Implications unit. We had just finished the section on intuition and knowledge and we looked at the example of Bernadette at Lourdes. Considering it was something new, it worked very well and I'll definitely be using again. The girls really showed themselves in the best possible way, giving articulate, high level responses to every question I asked. The inspector was in there for 35mins from the start, a little longer than he planned... He apologised as he said he was so engrossed in the lesson that he forgot to leave. Always a good sign.

Y11 Set 1, period 6; the inspectors had said they weren't coming in to this lesson, however things had already changed a few times during the day. I finally let my guard down at 3.15pm, 15mins of the day to go. The only lesson of the day that didn't get observed! (It was a good one on the 10 Commandments, prepared regardless, just in case.

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