How to PEE on Ofsted…the easy way to talk to Ofsted Inspectors…

Don’t get in a muddle, make an Ofsted Inspector puddle! 


sweatOf all the stresses we encounter during an Ofsted Inspection, (I don’t need to list them, do I?) the most stressful is often the thought of an Ofsted Inspector actually speaking to you. The rumours fly around about the last inspection; that one time someone in Childcare farted at the wrong moment and almost took your college from Outstanding to Unsatisfactory…and SMT are sending out gentle reminders that you work at the most supportive and happy college in the country, and any feedback from staff must resemble that message.

outstandingWe’re given lists upon lists of what should be in this folder, what should be in that folder, what questions learners may be asked, how classrooms should appear, what our lessons should consist of…the list of lists goes on! While it aims to be helpful, this list overload only leaves us feeling completely unarmed when we come up against a situation for which no list has been provided.

pee on inspectorIn any good college, your leaders will give you some guidance on what to say when approached by an Ofsted Inspector. However, managers are so used to evidencing the impact of everything they do in one succinct sentence, they miss that all important guidance on how you string these skillfully worded sentences together, without panicking that you’re about to blow the whole operation. It was when one of these good leaders was explaining what kind of things we need to be saying to Ofsted Inspectors that I realised, there’s a simple formula.

PEE on your Ofsted Inspector

As an English teacher, we teach our learners to PEE on their poems, on their essays, on their texts (variations of PEE are used e.g. PEEL, PEED and so on, but personally, I prefer to PEE on everything), so why not PEE on your inspector?


It works on anything!

Point (summarise what you want to share) – “We promote E&D successfully.”

Evidence (what action did you take) – “We have had lots of training on how to identify natural opportunities  and turn them in to learning experiences for the learners.”

Explain (the impact) – “We are able to confidently educate our learners about E&D, they understand their responsibilities in relation to the Equality Act and celebrate their differences, both through college projects and in everyday life!”

So, next time you’re being inspected, be sure to remove that anxiety by being prepared to PEE on your Inspector

Easy as that.


Displays: Are they for learning or for decoration? 

Nine times out of ten, you’ll find the best displays in college in the contemporary childcare departments. They outshine the out of date practitioners who seem to think that static displays printed in Comic Sans are the way forward; these practitioners are creative, dedicate time and effort to their displays and get the learners involved. So, why is it that childcare departments manage to get it so right?

They see everything as a learning opportunity, they have worked in environments where doors are used to display angles, name tags teach children the alphabet, images and colours are used as signposts for learning and displays are held in high regard! So, why is this not common practice?

Well, in many cases, it is, but if you are not taking advantage of those blank canvases in your classrooms, which can be used as prompts, word walls, unit signposts and celebrations of learning…then it’s time to change your ways!

Don’t have the time? It shouldn’t be your work, it should be a project for your learners…a learning tool! Here’s some ideas for tasks…

Task: How can you remember key terminology? Make a display! Use for starters and plenaries. Images from @EduKayte‘s GCSE English class.
Task: We need to monitor your learner journey. Using the marking criteria and design a display board for this! Images from @cazzwebbo’s classroom.
Task: We need to revise this topic, make a visual to help you remember what you need to do for each qs of the exam. Display it! Images from Karen Darvill’s classroom at Hertford Regional College.
Task: What have you learnt today? Display it! Images from @EduKayte‘s training session on using initial assessments to aid progress.

It’s as easy as that. Don’t stick it on a worksheet. Display it!

What are the benefits?

1) Learners will retain the information much more effectively as they have processed it in a different way.

2) It can be used as an interactive learning tool. No wait, it should be used as an interactive learning tool. (Down with static, Comic Sans, pointless displays!)

3) It makes it their space. Their learning space. Ownership can be everything to some learners.

4) Always check spelling! It’s develops English skills – capital letters for titles, use of punctuation etc.

5) It develops maths skills – measurements, area, diameters, scale and so on.

6) It’s a great activity!

To take every opportunity for learning, you must first see everything as an opportunity for learning.

Sometimes, teaching English and maths can feel like trying to take your cat out for a walk…

…you approach the task as if it’s going to be the best thing ever, your
enthusiasm knows no bounds as you prepare to lead the way…but their reluctance is powerful and eventually wears you down.

One of the biggest barriers to teaching English and maths skills is the powerful reluctance to engage. Many learners, and staff, have had negative, and sometimes even traumatic, experiences during their previous education in English and maths, which we simply need to overcome if we want the learners to achieve their full potential.

It’s not just you who has the reluctant moggy…

Recently, I’ve been working with colleges around the country and regardless of the individual staff training needs where ever I go all staff are finding the learner (and some staff) negativity to be one of the biggest challenges in the teaching of English and maths. Although this hasn’t come as a surprise to me at all, it did make me think that some easy pointers and tips might be gratefully received.

Make the cat feel happy, safe and confident and they’ll follow you anyway! 

Changing the mindsets of learners 

#1 Identifying barriers – it’s not just about completing initial assessments and diagnostics, then filing them away as job done, you need to assess in more detail. What are your learners likes and dislikes in English and maths? What are their fears? Their previous experiences? Their aspirations? Interactive activities to gain this information are invaluable.

acti#2 Meeting the needs and interests of learners – Gaining the knowledge above enables us to do just that. Following activities to identify further information about our learners’ previous experiences allows us to tailor our sessions to meet their learning needs, appeal to their interests and remove barriers early on. E.g.a learner studying English may refuse to engage due to a fear of having to read work to the group, if this learner is assured that this will never happen, the barrier is removed and they become engaged.

#3 Contextualising English and maths – The old classic we’ve all heard: ‘I didn’t come here to study English and maths’… but they did come to you to learn how to succeed in their chosen profession, so it seems obvious that we need to contextualise the sessions to highlight the relevance of English and maths to the learners. If your learners aren’t studying a vocational qualification, they still have interests, find out what they are and pickingcontextualise that way! E.g. adult learners will have hobbies, interests, aspirations – your activities can be created in a way which includes these.  The best way of thinking of ideas for this is by creating activities for your learners where they tell you the relevance. There are loads of resources out there to help you with this, but no better resources than the specialists who work alongside you…

#4 Collaboration between tutors – Vocational specialists and English and maths specialists have a common goal…to enable the learners to achieve and progress. Now, more than ever, vocational and English and maths are crossing over, if you’re not already doing it, it’s time to work together. Two simple methods: 1) English and maths specialists email vocational staff weekly to inform them of this weeks topic, vocational specialists reply with links to vocational lessons which will naturally occur. 2) Vocational tutors are required to support their learners to develop English and maths skills, where appropriate, in vocational sessions – English and maths teachers can share ways to support development of skills in weekly team meetings. #sharinggoodpractice!

#5 Changing the way we give feedbackDr Carol Dweck’s study on feedback explores the impact praising effort oppocarol dwecksed to intelligence has on learner progression. Think how it would feel as a D grade student in secondary school, potentially always achieving lower grades than some of your peers, even though you put as much effort in, if not more, than your class mates do…eventually, if the amount of effort goes unnoticed, the motivation would understandably disappear. Could this be a reason for that D grade? Remember that in college, our D grade students are top of the class! They have lots to share and if motivated successfully can step over that C grade threshold and beyond!

That’s enough to get started with…consider your own practice and if any of the above could be implemented more successfully.

Get it right and your learners could even lead the way for others.

To view an example training session on changing learner mindsets in maths and English, please visit by clicking here.