My experiences of Mocksteds

Mocksted 1:

I was a supply teacher at the time. OFSTED were due so in my 3rd week they had a mock inspection. The school did not appear to have any systems in place for managing behavior. If they had policies to do with marking, planning etc then nobody told me what they were. If there was a scheme of work then nobody gave it to me. It was a highly dysfunctional  school.

When I was observed the class did the starter, listened while I explained the work to them. They then worked in pairs for a bit. They were chatting too much and not doing much work so I stopped that activity and made them work on their own in silence for a bit. I then did a plenary that showed most of them had made progress.

I felt given I was new teacher in a tough school that the lesson had gone well. I would have given it a 2. The mock inspector gave it a 4. He seemed genuinely baffled as to why I had stopped the part of the lesson where they weren’t really doing any work and made them do some work. He was going to give it a 3 until I argued with him at which point the lesson was downgraded to a 4 because I was “unable to reflect on my practice”.

The conclusion the Mocksted inspectors came to was that the teaching was satisfactory, the behavior was good, the results were satisfactory and management were good with outstanding features. The HT basically accused as all of being slackers. Sufficed to say OFSTED did not agree with any of those conclusion…The school escaped being put into special measures by the skin of it’s teeth.

Mocksted 2:

This was at the school described here:

https://mylifeasacynicalteacher.wordpress.com/2013/07/31/my-experiences-as-a-teacher-of-dealing-with-sexism-bullying-of-girls-and-victim-blaming-as-a-teacher-relating-tangentially-to-the-caroline-criado-perez-stuff/

and school 1 here:

https://mylifeasacynicalteacher.wordpress.com/2013/05/30/the-impact-of-school-leadership-on-pupil-behavior-my-experience/

The school got some of the more objectionable consultants I ranted about here ( https://mylifeasacynicalteacher.wordpress.com/2013/07/05/my-experience-of-consultants/ )

to come in and annoy everyone. We were instructed to treat it as if it were a “real” OFSTED. This was at a time when inspections were 4 days long. We were told that we had to produce folders with all the relevant data for our classes along with detailed lesson plans and the resources we intended to use for all the lessons over the 4 days. All the different categories of pupil had to be highlighted. This took hours to produce. Textbooks were not allowed as apparently they were not suited to group work and stifled the pupils creativity.

I was observed twice.

The first time I was observed my lesson was continuing from the previous lesson. I had touched on what we were going to be doing the lesson before and asked them to do some research for homework. I was teaching in a temporary classroom in the playground at the time. I fight started as the pupils were walking across from the main building. I was ongoing as the pupils entered the room. I separated the fighting pupil, sent a pupil to get senior management and stood in the doorway with one of the pupils that had been fighting in the room and the other outside. The one that I had kept outside refused to go to reception, refused to go to the withdrawal room, kept trying to get into the room to beat up the other pupil and swore at me continuously for the 20 minutes it took SMT to arrive. One of my nicer pupils put a countdown program on the IWB and the class played countdown and were reasonably well behaved. When SMT finally arrived and removed the 2 pupils who had been fighting I did an abridged version of the lesson. Within seconds of me starting to explain the work one of the pupils claimed to have done the work before. I explained that we had touched on it in the plenary and that they had done some research on it for homework but that did not mean they had done it before. The pupil accepted this and the rest of the lesson went pretty well considering the poor start.

I was surprised when I was told that I would get my feedback in the HTs office with the HT present. I was blamed for the fight, blamed for not being able to teach while keeping 2 fighting pupils apart, blamed for 20 minutes of the lesson being wasted and accused of teaching the same lesson twice to try to subvert the observation.

This was on Tuesday. I was then on a residential trip from Tuesday evening and we returned on Friday lunchtime having had no sleep in the interim.

My second observation was on the Friday afternoon. I was so tired I just wanted to go home. I refused to be observed. The HT and observer said it would be informal and no judgments about or criticisms of my teaching would be made as a result of it. I foolishly relented. The lesson didn’t go well because I didn’t have the energy to manage the behavior of an extremely difficult class. I was once again summoned to the HTs office to be slagged off. I involved the union and received an apology shortly afterwards.

The Mocksted concluded that the teaching was satisfactory at best, the behavior was good, the results were good and management were outstanding. The HT accused us all of being workshy and our teaching not good enough. Apparently the problem was that the teaching staff were not following the policies SLT were producing properly and not working hard enough.

OFSTED rated the teaching good, the behavior satisfactory, the results satisfactory (just) and management a unsatisfactory. The OFSTED report specifically mentioned how hard working and committed the staff were.

Mocksted 3:

At the same school as Mocksted 2. i refused to produce the weighty tome of lesson plans and data sheets on the grounds that the last Mocksted was bollocks. When I refused to budge from the position I was put through a disciplinary resulting in a letter of warning. I was not observed.

The conclusions the Mocksted reached were pretty similar to Mocksted 2. The OFSTED that followed give the school a satisfactory across the board apart from teaching which was good.

When I moved school my new school tried to do a Mocksted but it was against the NUT action short of strike action so we refused to participate.

If a Leadership team know their school and know the OFSTED framework then I can’t see what the point of a Mocksted would be.

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6 thoughts on “My experiences of Mocksteds

  1. Pingback: OFSTED: Smoke and Mirrors and Malevolent Magic | Scenes From The Battleground

  2. Pingback: My experiences of OFSTED | mylifeasacynicalteacher

  3. Stevie D

    Sorry to hear you’ve had such rubbish experience of Mocksteds. I know you won’t be alone in feeling bruised and battered by them, and wondering what the point was. I know that too often they are badly planned, badly communicated and badly carried out, and I’m not trying to excuse the ones that are. But there are schools that have really benefited from having a Mocksted – it all depends on what the purpose is and how well it is put together.

    There are a number of reasons why a Mocksted may be carried out, that will help the school:

    1 – The local authority (or academy chain) insists on a mock inspection because the school is coasting, and leadership is complacent and hasn’t kept it up with changing inspection frameworks. The school is unaware of how vulnerable it is and the high risk of getting an unfavourable judgement, and needs a shock tactic to wake them up. As you say, this is the obvious case when it can be beneficial, but it isn’t the only one.

    2 – Headteachers believe they know the school well, but want an external perspective to validate their views and confirm they are heading in the right direction, or pick up on any issues the leadership have missed. It can also be used as a baseline assessment for a new headteacher wanting a quick overview of where the school is, and so they can demonstrate where their leadership has had impact.

    3 – Shock tactics for teachers who don’t believe the judgement of the headteacher a/o leadership team. This is particularly useful in schools with relatively new headteachers and a long-standing and entrenched staff team who haven’t kept pace, and don’t accept criticism from the headteacher or recognise how vulnerable the school is. An external, independent review by a trained inspector can sometimes be more helpful in convincing a recalcitrant staff body than a new headteacher who has already got everyone’s backs up by asking them to do their job properly.

    4 – Demythologising the inspection process and taking the fear out of it. When a school has been through a mock inspection or two *and these have been handled properly* then staff are more used to being observed in that context and less likely to panic; they know what to expect from the inspection process and so will be better prepared to deal with it. Mock inspections can also be used as development opportunities for teachers, in just the same way as internal lesson observations should be.

    Mock inspections aren’t the whole solution, or even necessarily the best solution, but sometimes they can be very valuable, and make a real difference in helping schools consolidate and improve. It does require planning and communication in advance, and you do need to have good inspectors.

    Reply
    1. bigkid4 Post author

      I agree that these reasons COULD make a Mocksted worthwhile. They wouldn’t however address the core of the problem which is that OFSTED inspections are fundamentally flawed. This makes Mocksteds at least as flawed.

      2- This could be worthwhile but I would do it as a 360 review with another local, similar school. Getting consultants in to do it always makes me think the consultant is just going to say what they have been paid to say.

      3- In one of my schools the leadership team held me in contempt and the feeling was completely mutual. None of the consultants, inspectors or Mocksteds convinced me to change my teaching one bit. My results were sufficiently good I didn’t need to. They didn’t like my way of teaching I didn’t like their proscribed way of teaching or their style of leadership. OFSTED, when they came, agreed with me more than them as it turned out.

      I can see how this could be useful but it does assume that the leadership team are right and the staff wrong. Would a consultant or Mocksted team be willing to tell a HT that they are wrong and risk losing future employment as a result? I believe that an entrenched and recalcitrant staff would simply ignore the mocksted feedback or dismiss it on the grounds the inspectors are just saying what the HT told them to say.

      4- This might work in a good school with good management who aren’t scared of OFSTED. I haven’t worked in one of those for long so I can’t really comment on how that might work.

      Mocksteds don’t have to be bad things but I’ve not spoken to anyone (apart from Senior Leaders and possibly you…are you a senior leader?) who has had any positive experiences of them.

      Reply
  4. Pingback: Observations | mylifeasacynicalteacher

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