No public body seems more hated and reviled by its stakeholders than Ofsted. And the vitriolic twitter comments on last week’s well-being survey are nursery rhymes compared to the language used in private.
Because education profoundly effects our lives from, well, EYFS to the grave, Ofsted’s work should be defined by its commitment to transparency, inclusiveness and democracy. Put simply: The teaching children receive now defines whether today’s adults will die in a cosy nursing home bed or on a piece of cardboard on the street in 20 to 50 years time.
Because stakeholders will not let it go, Ofsted really has no alternatives to a positive, honest and effective conversation with parents, pupils, teachers, leaders, politicians, MATs, LAs, pundits, bloggers, public services and 3rd party providers.
Learning from General Haig’s mistakes
Ofsted’s current approach – epitomised last week by the provocative tick-box survey on well-being and the feigned surprise about secondary teachers’ workload – has lead only to disenfranchisement and resentment. And, no, it is not enough to do piecemeal voxpops of sequestered segments, even a handful of education bloggers, to break the stalemate.
For me, the last couple of months have been full of exchanges with researchers, civic community and business leaders looking for a new way to communicate beyond online project management tools, conferences and twitter. Some of these conversations are reflected in my concerns about the Chartered College planned accreditation system.
Building on my own experience with workshops such as Healing Fractures II – Beyond Birmingham? (Ofsted didn’t accept that invitation), I am looking for settings where concepts such as Knowledge Cafés, Co-creative Learning and Conversational Leadership have demonstrated their usefulness in the public and private sector. Drawing on 25 years of experience in business and education, my aim is to fuse such approaches with outcome-focused Cooperative Learning.
I am planning a couple of workshops to trial the concept under various conditions and with various objectives. The aim of these workshops is to let all delegates explore, understand and develop their roles to collaboratively take on specific challenges.What this means is that these are not whinge-fests, feel-good knees-ups or “key note”conferences.
Rather, these workshops involve high stakes conversation with openness about vulnerabilities in a safe social space, tightly organised by Cooperative Learning. Think a classroom, where the outcome “introduce two-digit multiplication” is replaced with “launch a new initiative,” “unite hearts and minds,” “introduce communities or organisations to each other,” “consult on procurement” or “uncover the full potential of all stakeholders.”
Regardless of the desired outcome, an overarching success criteria is that all delegates leave these workshops wiser and with a sense of belonging and an increased care and respect for their colleagues.
Ofsted is hereby invited.
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