We are now members of The Independent Schools Association. A decision to join was made by governors, on my recommendation, as I was concerned about the new ‘more rigorous’ inspection regime under Ofsted. Now that we are members of the association, the school will be inspected by The Independent Schools Inspectorate. I attended a course on Wednesday to learn more about their approach and I was pleasantly surprised. The system is still rigorous but the inspection process, it would seem from this training, is less draconian. The school’s compliance against the regulations (safeguarding, health and safety, policies etc.) will be carefully examined and all must all be in order and adhered to. However, it is in the area of teaching and learning that there is a noticeable difference to the Ofsted approach that I have been used to.
The focus is on outcomes for students and these are divided into two key areas: Academic and other achievements: attainment over time, knowledge skills and understanding, communication, numeracy, ICT, study skills and attitudes. Personal development: self understanding, decision making, spiritual understanding, moral understanding and responsibility for own behaviour, social development and collaboration, contribution to others and the community, and respecting diversity and cultural understanding. It is the second of these two that gives me hope that our approach will be given due recognition within the inspection process. This recognition that there are significant outcomes for children that are as important as academic achievement has been a long time coming. The independent school inspection process doesn’t judge teaching or expect a particular approach – it is up to us to ensure that we develop students both academically and personally. At last it feels as if we are being treated as the professionals that we are. Hooray! Linda