Ofsted is not here to scare you!

The Key
The Key

Ajid Ali, pupil at Bishop Challoner Catholic Collegiate Secondary School

Ajid Ali is a pupil at Bishop Challoner Catholic Collegiate Secondary School in Tower Hamlets, London. Last month, Ajid completed a week’s work experience at The Key. He aspires to become a hotel manager and is currently part of the school orchestra (he plays the violin). In this post, Ajid tells us why school leaders don’t need to stress about Ofsted.


Ofsted sometimes seems to me, a 15-year-old pupil, to create stress and anxiety for school leaders and teachers. I’ve also noticed that headteachers sometimes over-exaggerate Ofsted’s importance, and worry too much about their school’s reputation at the expense of other things which may be more important.  Here’s some advice from a student to headteachers:

Don’t worry about Ofsted inspections – worry about your pupils, your staff and yourselves.

It might sound selfish, but you don’t need to worry so much about your school; instead, you should focus on pupils and what’s important in your life (family and friends).

I’ve discovered some disturbing stories about school leaders not being able to surround themselves with the people they love. I spoke to a few local headteachers to find out the extent of the problem.

One said: “I’m really stressed about my school, and have not spent proper time with my family in four years.”  I feel bad for headteachers like this.

Also: your first priority should be your pupils’ education and safety. Tell me how you’re meant to teach pupils when you’re constantly thinking about something else? Your stress is corrupting our future!

I wish headteachers would have more confidence in themselves and their schools.  The purpose of inspections is to check that Ofsted’s rules and regulations are being applied within the school. You may think your job is hanging on a thread when the inspectors arrive, but maybe all you need to do is stay calm and indicate that you are confident in your school. Isn’t this ironic – a student giving advice to headteachers?!

I’m sure you’re aware of all the negative aspects of your job, so I thought I’d leave you with a reminder of some of the positives:

Or, rather, teach on!

Or, rather, teach on!

  • You get to develop and guide the next generation’s leaders
  • You learn something new every day
  • You can see the world from a new perspective – that of your students
  • “It’s a passion, and no two days are the same” (Christine Bernard – assistant headteacher at St Mary’s Lewisham Church of England Primary School)
  • “I love working with children – they make me smile every day” (Naseem Badar – deputy headteacher at Rushey Green Primary School in Lewisham)

If you’re doubting yourself or feeling stressed, I hope this helps. Stay calm and teach on!quote-end

Members of our school leader service can log in to find out more about Ofsted inspection from September 2015. You can also access our articles on preparing for inspection.

Comments 1

  1. PrincipalwardTracy 4th August 2015

    HI Ajid. Well done for sharing. We are due our Ofsted in December and looking forward to it. As a leader I have always seen my job as looking after my students and staff in equal measure. Any challenge is undertaken as a shared responsibility and desire to be better every day in what we do. We see ofsted as an opportunity to check that we are going in the right direction. A healthy approach and what you are advocating. It can feel threatening for heads as there is sometimes an extreme reaction to schools not doing well with some losing their jobs. Headship and teaching is a vocation and our jobs and lives are closely linked and whilst we encourage and challenge and train our students to do better giving them opportunities to be courageous in their learning and development sadly there are no second chances for heads and leadership teams. I think that the main reason people get really anxious is because they care so much about what they do.

    The hours one works as a head or teacher are high and do often impact on personal lives. to harness the energy and momentum that there is now to make it more manageable. I don’t have the answers but I do have a family that I love as well as a job that I love. I am learning to play the guitar and enjoy life and love my job and the community that I serve. So wish me luck and let me know when you are ready to join us! Good luck, great job.

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