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Views & Opinion Demystifying the short

inspections This month, regular contributor Graham Cooper, head of product strategy at Capita SIMS, looks at the “short inspection” from OFSTED, and offers some pointers on navigating this new, more frequent inspection.

The topic of Ofsted inspections frequently arises during the many school visits we conduct across the country. Any maintained school or academy which was judged good at their last inspection will now receive these light-touch, more frequent inspections. Although less in depth, the stakes for these inspections are high. The inspectors will talk to senior leaders, staff, students, governors and parents and if the inspection team spot a possible decline, schools will receive a full inspection within 24 to 48 hours. If Ofsted

thinks a school may now be outstanding, they can also instruct a full inspection to be carried out to confirm whether this is the case or not. With so much potentially counting on the visit, it is important that all members of staff have access to the information they will need before an inspection team arrives at the school gate.

1. You will be asked to show how you are monitoring students’ behaviour as safeguarding is a key focus. Think about setting up your MIS to enable you to see any behaviour incidents as they happen, and any rewards students receive. It will show Ofsted that you have a full picture of what’s happening in your school. It should also allow you to see who is late to school, and identify those who don’t have a mark in the register for that day.

2. Inspectors will want to see proof that you are helping to develop cultural awareness. Consider including notices on your MIS to show the activities that are taking place in school to support this.

3. Do all your teachers know who your SEN pupils are? Ofsted will want to ensure that senior leaders and governors fully understand the school’s SEN policies and that they are being implemented by teachers in the classroom. Your MIS should allow you to quickly and easily identify your SEN students, demonstrate that you are aware of individual needs and the interventions being used by all members of staff. You could also think about setting alerts on your MIS homepage for SEN co-ordinators to remind them of all SEN reviews that are due throughout the year so nothing is missed.

4. Do you have a system in place to keep staff fully informed of what is happening in school? Think about using your MIS to inform key staff via alerts, emails or SMS texts when a student moves up a maths class, is late to class or has been awarded good behaviour points by multiple teachers so that pastoral leaders have information relevant to their students.

5. Inspectors will want to see evidence that a school is communicating well with parents. Consider using your MIS to record details of all telephone conversations as well as letters sent and received. It will also allow you to schedule reminders to contact parents when required.

Don’t forget, if you have a question that you’d like answered in my next column, do email me via the magazine on Twitter: @CapitaSIMS

12 Christmas in the curriculum

This month, regular Education Today contributor Kirsty Bertenshaw offers her thoughts on adding a festive twist to STEM in the classroom.

The weather has changed, the nights are drawing in and the supermarkets are full of tins of’s that time of year again! Staying positive and making lessons fun on the run up to the Christmas break can be tricky, especially when you are being asked to provide data/ evidence for progress while classes beg for something seasonal to do. Here are a few of my all-time favourite Christmas with education rationale activities for you to consider as you plan the last few weeks of term. They are not new, they are not original, but they are fun and they most definitely are STEM – Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths.

Christmas chromatography

This can done for all ages with varying degrees of science such as calculating Rf values, separation techniques or even in terms of food safety and food colourings if you teach an applied course or food technology. Use either food colouring, water soluble felt tips or (my personal favourite!) sweets like Skittle’s or M&M's in a spotting tile with a few drops of water and a thin pipette. Depending on how much time you have, pupils can cut shapes out of the filter paper and rotate them in beakers, or cut out shapes after the filter paper has dried.

Balloon powered Santa Sleighs

Templates are available online for sleigh outlines, or pupils could design their own aerodynamic sleigh around a balloon. If you stick a small piece of straw about 5cm long on the balloon, but cut open the top part, you can hook it onto a piece of string easily and it will guide the sleigh in one direction. You could relate this to streamlining or air pressure in a lower key stage e.g. what happens if we inflate the balloon more or less? Alternatively, use it to calculate speed by measuring the distance it travels down the string and the time it takes to travel that distance - physics AND maths! You could film the sleigh in action, then slow it down and sketch distance time graphs or speed time graphs with more able pupils.

Christmas coordinates

There are some readymade examples online, but these are not difficult to make yourself. Depending on the ability range of your pupils, you can give them coordinates to plot on squared or graph paper to form shapes such as Christmas trees. For more able pupils, multiple sets of coordinates or even four quadrants/ negative axis can be used, or they can design their own!

Winter wonderland/growing crystals

This can be done with borax which works brilliantly if you have pupils who won’t touch the crystals that form afterwards, or salt for a safer option. This is a little less ordinary so here are the instructions: cut out cardboard shapes, slot pieces together to make them 3D and place in a tray, make a saturated solution of salt and water or borax and water, then pour over the cardboard shapes leaving excess in the tray. Over a few days the water will evaporate and crystals will form on the cardboard looking like a layer of frost or snow- very festive! Keep it cool for slower evaporation and larger crystal formation.

You can teach dissolving, changes of state or even macromolecules and bonding with this practical - easy and fun for all key stages! You can make it into an investigation comparing different amounts of salt in water or compare different conditions using the same amounts such as cold store cupboard, window sills or near the heater. Even the sizes of crystals or dry mass can be measured, and then represented in a graph.

November 2015

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