Last week our Head received THE phone call at 8am on Monday morning. For independent schools, this means ISI (Independent Schools Inspectorate) will be in school that Wednesday and Thursday. Cue the panic. But why do we panic? What we do every day in our roles is great, we are effective practitioners, we get great results and most importantly, our students are thriving. Why does an inspection fill us with so much dread and make us feel like we have to do more?
I believe inspections should be viewed as a check to make sure what we are doing is the right thing. Not extraordinary things we put together for those couple of days the inspectors are here, but the incredible things we do every single day of the year. It’s a chance to show off all the amazing things we do to make our School so special. I believe we should be working every day to make the School the best place it possibly can be for our students and the by-product of this is that we do well on inspection. Sadly, many Schools strive for perfection in inspections and spend hours and hours during the year to get ready for the few days they’re here. Like so many things in education, high-stakes assessments equal high risk, therefore we feel we must go to extraordinary lengths to pass an inspection.
At 4pm on the day before the inspectors arrived a colleague asked me ‘Why do you look so calm?’ I responded by saying I wasn’t worried, tomorrow and the day after are just two normal days in School. If we do what we normally do, we will pass because I know what goes on in School on a daily basis and I am confident it is the right thing.
Leadership teams must instil this confidence in their staff, encourage them to go home at their usual time to ensure they’re rested and ready for the days ahead, not spending hours slaving over lesson plans which will result in exactly the same lesson in the classroom. Inspections are a time where the whole School comes together and supports each other to achieve the best possible outcome. I’m not saying this may not require a little bit more effort but if we feel we need to do so much extra work to prepare our lessons or our policies in order to do well, then it’s not the inspection we need to worry about but our general day to day practice, because it’s that that truly makes us an Excellent/ Outstanding school for our students to attend.