Written by Katie Richardson (SCITT Trainee 2022/23)

The dreaded Ofsted call. The school had been expecting it, but still the atmosphere across the school changes in an instant, and meetings are called and held at short notice. All afterschool clubs and personal plans are cancelled. Quick meeting at lunchtime and a formal whole school meeting scheduled for 3.30pm once the children have been sent home with letters in their reading bags so that parents are aware. No time for chairs, let alone coffee and biscuits. The Headteacher reassures all of the staff that they are perfectly prepared for what is to come, and that all anyone needs to do is what they always do – to the very best of their ability.

And then it begins – the prepping, cleaning, tidying, shredding, laminating, swapping, straightening, gluing, sticking, cutting – the list goes on. Before you know it, it’s been 5 hours since the children went home and night has fully fallen. Everyone has done everything in their power to make sure the school looks its best. The only thing to do now is to head home and get a good night’s sleep ready for the morning.

We all arrive early, extra smartly dressed and very well presented. A formal meeting at 8am to be introduced to our inspector – a lovely friendly lady who reassured the entire staff that judging by the website and her initial impression of the school that no one had anything to worry about. Great! And so, we began our day. As a trainee teacher working with a supply teacher, I would not be formally observed so the pressure was off for me personally, however, there was always the chance that someone would walk by the classroom and poke their head in…

Although it was a stressful few days, heightened by the fact that my mentor and class teacher were off sick(!), it was actually a really eye-opening experience. Not many students get the opportunity to experience the stresses of Ofsted at school, without any of the personal pressure of being observed so it was a great learning opportunity. It was also really encouraging to see how all of the staff – teachers, TA’s, office staff, housekeeping – everyone; pulled together and worked so hard. It cemented the sense of community at the school which I had already experienced at Norwood Primary School.