A Visual Guide to the New OfSTED Framework – now updated to include both Outstanding & Good descriptors for Primary and Secondary

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UPDATE: Due to popular demand, I have created my visual guides to OfSTED for Outstanding and Good in Primary, and Outstanding and Good in Secondary.

For those of you who are expecting OfSTED, or who just want to get your heads around the new OfSTED framework, I’ve produced a visual guide of the ‘Good’ grade descriptors. I did this for three reasons:

  1. For those of us who like documents to be more visual, and who use shapes and colours to help us take in information, you should find these grade descriptors much easier to read than the way they are currently laid out in the OfSTED handbook.
  2. This “mind map” style representation would make a really great display in the staff room/training room as part of CPD. It would even be possible to add Post-it notes, documents and photos to it, to build up a picture of how your school meets the criteria (both formal and non-formal observations). Used in this way, I would encourage anybody to add to it – teaching staff, lunchtime staff, governors, visitors – as well as SLT.
  3. It’s a really useful tool for when you are doing a book scrutiny or learning walk, or as a quick reference guide for leadership conversations.

Visual Guide to the New OFSTED Framework 2Some things to note:

  1. I have written this as the Primary version, and as such haven’t included references about Secondary schools UPDATE: A Visual Guide to the New OfSTED Framework has been updated to include Primary, Secondary and Outstanding
  2. Some of the OfSTED handbook statements have been shortened to capture their essence, so please always make sure to refer back to the original for the full picture
  3. I have numbered each box to make it easier to facilitate conversations around the document, and to make it easier to collect and label evidence following a book scrutiny, learning walk etc

I hope you find this useful – I have had positive feedback from schools that I have trialled this with, and would love to hear from you too if you implement it in your school. And if you want any support with reviewing, revamping or re-energising your curriculum, please do get in touch.

Click here to download the Primary version of the Visual Guide to the New OFSTED Framework

Click here to download the Secondary version of the Visual Guide to the New OFSTED Framework

11 things I learnt from listening to Mary Myatt

Earlier on this term I had the pleasure of attending a conference to listen to the rather marvellous Mary Myatt.  Not only does she have concise, pertinent and incisive things to say about education, she is easy to listen to and has a fab style.  Oh, and lest I forget, she loves the Archers…we did manage to have a quick chat about it over coffee 🙂

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As a big fan of simplicity, here is a list of 11 things I learnt that day from Mary.  (I learnt a lot more too!)

  1. People and kindness come first. Your school should respect the humanity, dignity and integrity of everyone who enters it.
  2. “Writing floats on a sea of talk” – James Britton (1970).  Therefore, we need to get the children doing lots of talking, especially before they write, and we need to teach oracy.
  3. Children want more demanding work. We need to make them think – prioritise thinking over the completion of a task?
  4. Stories are powerful.  Enough said!
  5. We need to do fewer things in greater depth.  And we need to recognise that we can’t do everything.  We should encourage our colleagues to ask ‘So what are we going to stop doing?’
  6. Activities must not be proxies for learning. Ask “I have taught it. Have the children got it, how do I know?”
  7. Ask “What gifts do these people bring?” Beware of falling into a deficit model.
  8. Be grateful. Say to yourself, your children and your colleagues “How lucky I am to work with you.”
  9. Big ideas act as holding baskets for knowledge. E.g. Big ideas in Science → What are the big ideas in other subjects?
  10. Etymology is really useful – teaching children the origin of words helps them to understand things and apply that understanding.
  11. Progress is not linear! “Every data conversation should be a curriculum  conversation”. Progress or mastery develop over time – not in single lessons.
Follow these links to Mary Myatt’s blog and website to learn more about her philosophies on school improvement.







Daffodils – the simple joy of observing over time

daffodilsThe primary science National Curriculum says that children should ‘develop their understanding of scientific ideas by using different types of scientific enquiry to answer their own questions, including observing changes over a period of time, noticing patterns, grouping and classifying things, carrying out simple comparative tests, and finding things out using secondary sources of information.’

Most teachers are very familiar with the notion of carrying out fair tests, but I wonder how many of them plan for observing over time, or do it anyway without realising it.  In their very helpful book ‘It’s not fair – or is it? a guide to developing children’s ideas through primary science enquiry’, Turner et al, share the following pointers for observing over time:

  • Observing over time helps us identify and measure events and changes in living things, materials and physical processes and events.
  • Observations may take place over time spans from minutes or hours, to several weeks or months.
  • Observing over time provides opportunities for children to be actively involved in making decisions about what and how to observe and measure, and the best ways to record the changes that occur.
  • These types of enquiries provide rich contexts for children to learn about the importance of cycles, systems, growth and decay, and other types of changes.

As the signs of spring are getting stronger everyday, and because I do love a daffodil, I thought I’d take the opportunity to do a little bit of observing over time with a 99p bunch of daffodils from the local supermarket.  We watched these little beauties changing over a period of 12 days, taking 1 photo a day, and using PicCollage to put our timeline together.  I think the result is great!  It really shows how the daffodils have changed over time.  It would be interesting to continue to watch what happens after day 12 if they were placed on the compost heap.

As science week draws ever closer and teachers are rushing to find things to do, why not suggest this simple little activity?  It provides for a multitude of scientific skills e.g. observing, describing, comparing, measuring (if you want to), predicting, explaining and communicating, all for the price of 99p, and the effort of buying some daffodils and sticking them in a jam jar at the front of the class.  Take one picture a day, get the children to tell you what they notice, write it on the IWB alongside the photo, and make a class big book at the end of the week/fortnight.

Why not make a whole school project of it and show progression in science across school?  It would make a great display to have pupil paintings of daffodils, alongside photos, comments, predictions, descriptions and explanations.  For a bit of secondary research, why not find out more about daffodil growing in the UK?

And don’t forget, a bit of Wordsworth is always good…


What if…


Those of us who find it easy to access the creative sides of our brains often use that creativity for positive ends, but sometimes we can turn those talents to worry and anxiety.

For example, a recent leak in the roof of my house started out in my mind as…

– Oooh, that roof doesn’t look right…I’d better keep an eye on it.

– Hmm…there’s water coming down the inside wall.  Better mop that up.

Then panic and anxiety snuck in…

– What if we can’t get a builder?  What if the roof blows away in the wind?  What if I can’t afford to fix it?  What if the plaster gets too wet to support the window?  What if the window falls out (why would it)?  What if the house falls down?

Quite quickly I’d used my creative brain and its fairly constant supply of curious ‘what if’ questions to send myself into a downward spiral of panic, anxiety and sleepless nights.

During one of these sleepless nights, I got thinking about using my ‘what ifs’ for good, rather than negativity.  As educators, parents and human beings, what would it be like if we asked ourselves some alternative ‘what if’ questions.  Here are some to get you started:

  • What if my children (either your own or in your class) were perfect exactly as they are?
  • What if my children/colleagues are doing the very best they can, given the resources/experience/expertise etc. that they have?
  • What if we talked to our children/colleagues about the things they are doing well?
  • What if we assumed that inside each and everyone of us we have everything we need to be amazing? Inside a tiny acorn lies a great oak, so why not in us?
  • What if I was kind to myself today and acknowledged just how great I am?
  • What if I only said positive things today?
  • What if I trusted my children/colleagues?
  • What if I allowed myself to have fun today?
  • What if I just gave it a try?
  • What if I went with the rhythm of my children today?
  • What if I dared to be different?

So far, I’ve been playing with this idea and seeing where it takes me.  It’s fun, refreshing, sometimes a bit scary, but always full of possibilities.

Have a play with ‘what if’ and see where it takes you.