I am writing this to support any other headteachers who may be waiting for the OFSTED call!

I have been headteacher at my school for 7 years and joined initially as acting head. We had our first inspection a couple of months after joining and were put into Requires Improvement. We worked hard, and 2 years later were OFSTEDed again and regained our Good judgement. That was 5 years ago and we were expecting OFSTED anytime from last April, so had a long wait! Obviously lockdown slowed down their progress in catching up with inspections.

We had been expecting “The Call” in Summer term, but they didn’t call until September. I had Covid and was in my last 2 days of isolation when the call came. I asked if they could call me at home, which they did. I tried to defer until I was back in school, but they said that a headteacher being ill was not a reason for deferral, as the school is open, so they were coming in. I therefore called my leadership team and let them know that OFSTED were coming in. We then did a Teams meeting call with the lead inspector, myself and my assistant heads. The lead inspector was sympathetic that I would not be there and was flexible to allow me to join meetings from home. We agreed a timetable for the first day, with times for online meetings and also what they were going to be doing in school. We talked about deep dives and agreed on reading, maths, geography and history. These would all take place on day one with the format being meeting with curriculum leader, seeing the subject in class being taught, looking in books and speaking with the children. These all needed to tie together –  what the subject leader said, relating to how this was taught in class, speaking with the classteacher about their subject knowledge, then seeing outcomes in books and then speaking to the children about what they could remember about the subject, what they had done before and what they liked/disliked.

The inspector had a brief outline and we then made sure that the timetable was more detailed – including where each of the inspectors would be, where they were based, who they were seeing, with timings. This meant that we knew where they would all be at any time. They were pleased to have this on their arrival on the first day as it was clear. They offered to introduce themselves to the staff first thing, which they did, and the staff were very welcoming and smiley! This made a good first impression.

The inspectors kept asking about staff well-being during the inspection and each meeting they had with a member of the senior team, they asked again. They were approachable but also very thorough!

It soon became clear that our Year 3 children and reading were a focus for them and phonics. The children coming into Year 3 had missed a large amount of their phonics due to lockdowns and we did not have a synthetic phonics programme in place. We agreed that this was something that we needed to improve on and so they decided to do some more deep dives in the curriculum – PE, art, science and ICT were then looked into. As the curriculum was all sound and my staff could all speak about their subjects with enthusiasm – intent of their curriculum, how it was implemented across the school and also what impact they had – this was all key!

SEN was another focus and this was a strength here, with my SENCo completing a learning walk around schoo and being able to discuss children and their needs and show how children were being supported within class.

I carried out Teams meetings regarding safeguarding, the curriculum, single central register, SIP, SEF and PP strategy. We also discussed attendance and what we were doing to ensure good attendance at school. We met about behaviour and well-being.

The second day, I came into school and I was able to go round school with them, be on the playground etc.. They talked to parents before and after school and also children to discuss SMSC, behaviour, well-being…

The governors were invited in and could also discuss leadership of the school, how we had developed the curriculum, how they questioned me and asked about school improvement. They spoke with a representative from the local authority.

They continued to ask probing questions throughout the second day to ensure they had evidence for all of the hand book. We then sat down and went through the handbook and they discussed each point and whether they had evidence to say we were a good school for each point.

At the end of the second day, we invited governors in for feedback and I was allowed to have the leadership team there too. The feedback was all positive apart from phonics, but we got a good judgement. We were not allowed to tell staff anything until the report was published.

After 2 days of inspection the report that came out was a summary and very short, which upset some members of staff who felt that their hard work was not reported on.

That was our experience, hope it helps someone else!