Dashing to the Ofsted Dashboard

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As Ofsted launches yet another tool for compiling and disseminating statistics about schools, our headteacher diarist continues her fight to keep morale up in school.

I think I am getting old. All of the signs are there, as my joints are stiffening and old rugby injuries are coming back to haunt me. It took two attempts to get into the loft recently.

But nothing could prepare me for the shock of walking into the staffroom to greet prospective applicants for an assistant headteacher position, only to find myself facing what I thought were our latest batch of trainee teachers!

Did I used to look like them, I mused, as I began the school tour. I came to the conclusion that I probably did, but after 30 minutes of walk and talk, I realised they were far better prepared than I was at their stage, or their age for that matter. 

I think that it is a reflection of the high calibre of teachers coming into the profession these days, as well as the quality of the training available to them. I see it all around me at school, where NQTs become more experienced and before you blink they are ready, willing and very able to take on additional responsibilities. Good job too!

Something else that made me feel my age was that after “Raise” we now have Ofsted’s brand new “Data Dashboard”. 

I don’t think I can “dash” anymore but I’m willing to try.

I am not sure what I think of it yet; we will include it in our next report to governors and parents and make it available on the school website, but it probably needs some further explanation if it is to make good sense to others. 

Obviously, the data is the same as we have seen before, but the quintile reports are new and make for interesting reading. In common with other colleagues I have spoken to, after searching the Dashboard for my school’s entry, I then also searched for the data from other schools around and about us – and even some further afield!

Like any other comparative information, this type of analysis helps to formulate questions about what is happening in other schools.

Useful certainly, but of course at some point we have to get on with the day job of making sure that this year’s “dash data” shows improvement on last year.

Staff reaction was interesting to say the least. 

“More data” was the groan from some while others were more interested in checking out their own child’s school!

There are those who worry that anything new changes the goalposts and will be used by Ofsted, in particular, to continue the “good but not good enough” crusade that they believe exists.

I have tried to counter this view and to keep morale high in our school, but I dread to think how the reports were received in schools that are struggling to make the improvement journey. 

The staffroom wag summed up his view as “Dashboard? Nice colours, but I still prefer the walnut in a jag”.

This week also brought good news to some students and parents as they received notification of primary to secondary transfer. 

We are oversubscribed and so some youngsters were disappointed as they didn’t gain a place and now have to go through the uncertainty of appeals and the inevitable delay as they wait for the process to take place. 

I have been on the other side of this process when my previous school was losing students to the school down the road which was perceived as being better because the uniform included tartan skirts and blazers! 

I wish we’d had the Dashboard then.

  • Diary of a headteacher is written anonymously and in rotation by three practising headteachers from schools across the country.


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