Friday, March 23, 2012

What is wrong with the culture within Ofsted?

I have twice now visited schools which have had Ofsted inspections. Both praised the schools’approach to teaching children to read and spell.
Here is an extract from the latest:
"Good progress in reading continues across the school, the result of the consistent approach in teaching daily phonics sessions, and older pupils demonstrate increasingly accurate spelling skills when writing sentences. For those pupils who find reading particularly challenging, daily, individual support sessions, taught by specialists, are closing the gap between them and other pupils. Specialist support is utilised effectively to provide in-class support for those pupils who speak English as an additional language, ... , narrowing the gap between them and other pupils in their reading and writing.
The introduction of a commercial writing programme that is implemented systematically is ensuring all pupils are developing a structured approach to their writing. Their skills are progressing well, particularly those of the boys so that the gender gap is narrowing quickly. A sharper focus on boys’writing from Reception onwards, providing more interesting books and writing activities that engage their interest are having a positive impact. Most boys express a positive enjoyment in reading matching that of the girls."
Well and good, you may think. What a fine testimonial to the programme being used! What is significant though is the refusal of the inspectorate to name the commercial programme responsible for the good work in the phonics teaching and the writing. It is, of course, Sounds-Write but the inspectorate seem to have this crazy idea that to mention the particular programme that is helping to achieve the desired results would somehow compromise their independence. Surely, the job of the inspectorate is to spread good practice and tell others about what works?
Aside from a few charitable organisations running phonics trainings, most notably Fiona Nevola’s excellent Sound Reading System, all phonics trainings and materials are commercial; so why do Ofsted inspectors refuse to make public the success that programmes like Sounds-Write are enjoying?

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