OFSTED came, OFSTED went and OFSTED will come again.
I can’t believe there is any teacher in England and Wales who can not empathise with the trauma that is an OFSTED inspection. It is brutal. As much as I have opinions on the efficacy of this process, I will restrain as this isn’t really the place- but it is in my opinion a rather bizarre method of getting the best out of teachers to give their best to their pupils.
We knew OFSTED were going to come. However, I was also in denial that they would actually come. Like a lot of things in life I convinced myself that it wouldn’t happen to us. It did.
I have blogged before about my at times overwhelming sense of being a fraud. I know perfectly well that most people have this feeling to some greater or lesser extent. I speak with friends who feel frauds at being a mother, wife, business owner… I know it is a plight common to man- unfortunately that hasn’t helped me cope with my symptoms!
When the call came, my terror was primarily at being found out.
It was not helped by a comment I heard at a Heads conference the previous weekend. A highly respected educational professional in passing mentioned that he had met some heads who were only heads because they owned the school and there were not suitable. I am totally aware that I am only in my current role because a) we can’t afford to pay someone else to do it b) no-one responded to the ad and c) there is no way a state school would employ me as a Head! And yes I am one of the co-owners! I am aware that I bring some strengths to the role but I’m unconventional at best, completely unaware of what I’m doing at worse. I also know in my heart that I’m trying my best for our pupils- but good intentions aren’t always enough.
OFSTED came, as Directors we worked like Trojans, we argued our case, hardly slept, I cried and we survived. The school did well. But it didn’t help me with my fraud ness. (I’m feeling the slight need to justify myself and make it clear I don’t bang on like this all the time- but it is always there for me even if I don’t say it)
So what do I do about it? There are always options…
1) I learn the job quick! Get a mentor. Go on a course. Act like a Head
I am doing this. I ask for advice every step of the way. I speak to staff and parents like I know what I’m doing. I’m petrified they can see though me but I am a good actor. I do want to do a course. I know it will not make a jot of difference to my feelings, as my Play therapy supervisor used to say to me- Hepzibah you could have a PhD and still feel a fraud. But I would love the study and the process of learning. I am on a steep learning curve and my prayer is that I do not do any damage to my staff or pupils while I’m on it.
2) give up the role. Re-look at staffing structure and cover things differently.
But as I write, my heart and spirit can’t think of anything worse. I absolutely love the role. I say again I’m a round peg in a round hole. I’m possibly not the best head around, and I’m sure others could do it better- but only I can do it the way I do it.
OFSTED didn’t think I was a fraud. They saw some good things. The only negative thing about OFSTED was that it scuppered my sleep pattern and left me and my team completely exhausted.
I don’t like living with the fear of being found out all the time. It makes me far too vulnerable when others are unhappy with me and slightly high maintenance. But I can’t and won’t let that fear rob me of doing what I love and have some talent at: teaching. But even more than that- setting a vision and making it happen. Impacting others lives for the good and speaking up for those who don’t have such a loud voice.
This has been a hard post to write. It’s one of those where I start thinking in a certain way but by the end I’m in a different place. Absolutely brilliant but the temptation is then to censor my original thoughts. I will not do that. The paper doesn’t judge so nor will I.
Thanks for listening.