Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Ofsted

Once again Ofsted plumbs new depths of lunacy, announcing today that the word 'satisfactory' will no longer be allowed as a grade.

It's always worrying when organisations ban words- I can still remember the Professional Association of Teachers debating whether to forbid use of the word 'failure' and replace it with 'deferred success'. Such ideas just make us seem ridiculous to outsiders.

In Ofsted's case, this distracts attention away from their main problem, which is that they are grading schools on criteria that are fashionable rather than useful to the children. I gave the example in my second book of how, if a teacher were watched a few days before their class sat an exam and they spent the lesson doing a past paper, then Ofsted would grade that teacher poorly, even though it would be by far the best way of spending the pupils' time.

Just ask the ten brightest kids what they think of the school and you would get a much more accurate answer and save lots of money.

14 comments:

TonyF said...

'Satisfactory' used in the way we use it means, the item has passed tests within specification. Just. Any measurable variation would cause it to be a fail. We never accepted 'satisfactory' though, because we knew failure in the near future was inevitable.

Anonymous said...

We've just been told that every time a child answers a question, we must tell them what level they're at (ideally they should know it themselves at all times), what level the answer they gave was, and how they could raise it to the next level. Every time. Every child.

How on earth can a lesson progress smoothly and purposefully if you have to toil through that rigmarole every time you ask a functional question? Give the rest of a class a wordsearch to be going on with while you bore the arse off everyone with the State-of-the-Union speech?

rogerh said...

Conventional wisdom says education is a good thing, so no more 'Satisfactory', only 'Excellent' will do. But the cost of excellent education for all would be very high - and in the UK will, I think, produce a mass of expensively schooled folk ready to join the dole queue or if they are lucky work in a factory - hardly a bargain.

Currently science is being pushed forward - just at a time when India and China are turning turning out millions of science and engineering grads with prospects of a job. Taking the contrarian view, now is the time for media studies and psychology - to provide circuses and diversions for the underemployed masses.

Don said...

When I was at school, I used to get the comment "Satisfactory" all the time on my reports for subjects I wasn't any good at - notably PE. It simply meant that there was nothing actually wrong with my performance, just that I had neither the ability nor the aptitude to do any better.

The Ofsted Chief Inspector is quoted as saying: "There are too many coasting schools not providing an acceptable standard of education". Well, if the standard isn't acceptable then it's clearly not "satisfactory" and surely the schools concerned are being mis-classified? To aim for a classification where all schools are rated 'good' or 'outstanding' is going to create the equivalent of grade inflation and diminish the achievements of those which really are.

The TEFL Tradesman said...

Oh come on, everybody knows that Ofsted reports are about as reliable as the Hitler Diaries. In fact, the term 'satisfactory', when properly decoded, actually means 'certainly not good enough, but we don't want to label this school's kids and teachers as failures'.

In other words, it's just the sort of school you'd (a) prefer your own kids to avoid, and (b) want your neighbours' kids to attend.

Anonymous said...

I consider my SLT satisfactory. I going have to think of something else to call them now...

Anonymous said...

My son is training to be an airline pilot - all they do is revise for exams. I'm sure Mr Gove and Ofst*d would want them to know their stuff!

Revising for exams is part of education, surely?

Anonymous said...

If your sex life is satisfactory is that OK?

Anonymous said...

"Just ask the ten brightest kids what they think of the school and you would get a much more accurate answer and save lots of money. "

Good idea - plus an anonymous questionnaire for the techers.

L K Jay said...

Typical Ofsted and another way to batter teachers with their meddling of semantics.

Sometimes, particularly before exams, students need to just get on with some work. Apparently that would be 'in need of some improvement' if a teacher were to be observed. For goodness sake!

Perhaps Ofsted would care to ask actual teachers, who actually teach, what methods work best and I'm afraid to say it, sometimes it is sitting down, getting your pen out and getting on with the task that has been set.

Apparently that is not satisfactory. Oh sorry, that word doesn't exist any more.

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VicolaW said...

In my school, back in the 90s, satisfactory bascially meant 'crap but does at least turn up regularly', as in 'Vicola is satisfactory at PE'. Meant I had no sporting aptitude whatsoever but I turned up for tennis despite the fact I was never going to hit the ball. Sometimes kids need to learn that they aren't 'excellent' at everything, after all the real world that they enter after school isn't going to spend all its time telling them they're not crap when they are just in case it damages their self esteem and causes them to feel disnfranchised with the photocopier or whatever.

Anonymous said...

I used to work in an FE college. If a student presented me with a piece of work which didn't meet the required tolerances, I tried to discuss with them how they could attain the required standard. I say tried, since so many strode off in the huff (accustomed to having any old c###p signed off as being within tolerance) few wanted to achieve, and simply asked another instructor to look at their work, knowing he would happily sign it off. I asked on a number of occasions why the other instructor had signed off bad work, only to be told that the work had been within tolerance. Its dimensions had changed during the walk across the workshop, then?
Many FE students arrive at college barely literate, lacking in dexterity (good with thumbs, though) They can't perform simple mental addition or subtraction, needing a calculator (mobile 'phone)for simple arithmetic. Geometry and trigonometry are totally beyond most, yet they complete courses, and leave with a certificate indicating success! Pass, merit, distinction? Approximately a third of each, awarded more or less arbitrarily. Centre of excellence my eye!tr

Anonymous said...

"If your sex life is satisfactory is that OK?"

for me, compared to what it is now that would be f****** outstanding.