How Ofsted Marks Teachers Down for Actually Teaching! Watchdog Prefers 'Jazzy' Child-Led Learning to 'Chalk and Talk' Lessons

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Byline: Sarah Harris

OFSTED inspectors are favouring 'trendy' learning methods over traditional 'chalk and talk' teaching, a report claims today.

They prefer child-led activities to such an extent that it is 'inconceivable' for teachers to allow pupils to learn from textbooks during a visit from the watchdog.

An examination of Ofsted reports by think-tank Civitas reveals that inspectors show an 'aversion' to direct teacher instruction and like group work instead.

This is resulting in staff putting on 'jazzy' lessons in a bid to impress them, according to the study Playing The Game: The enduring influence of the preferred Ofsted teaching style.

Robert Peal, a history teacher and education research fellow for Civitas, examined 130 Ofsted reports of secondary schools inspected between September and October last year. Of these, 52 per cent showed a preference for lessons in which pupils learn independently from teachers and 42 per cent favoured group work.

Eighteen per cent criticised teachers for talking too much and the same proportion criticised lessons because the pupils were 'too passive'.

There was only one example of an inspector recommending a more teacher-led approach.

Two months later, Ofsted issued new guidance for inspectors which stated they should not back one style of teaching over another in the course of their work. And in January this year, Sir Michael Wilshaw, chief inspector of schools, wrote to inspectors saying: 'Please, please, please think carefully before criticising a lesson because it does not conform to a particular view of how children should be taught.' Mr Peal studied an additional 130 reports of inspections conducted between January and March this year to assess whether inspectors had taken the guidance on board.

Only 8 per cent demonstrated a preference for pupil independence and there were no reports of inspectors criticising teachers for talking too much. Two per cent flagged up the 'passivity' of pupils.

But Mr Peal claims the changes are 'largely superficial' and that 'fundamental problems' remain because reports have simply been rewritten to ensure signs of 'bias' are not included. …