You are here: Home > Headteacher’s Blog > An Inspector Calls

An Inspector Calls

 Illustration by Ros Asquith

It’s been quite a week at Highgate Primary School.

On Monday morning our children in nursery and reception started school. You could feel the excitement of the children as they skipped in to what will be their home for the next seven years. The atmosphere in the early years was so special; you could sense that something magical was happening. And the school tour on Monday morning showed that it wasn’t just Early Years that was crackling with positive energy. Three weeks into the new term, the school was looking fantastic. Children have settled into their new classes, their books are filling up with high quality work and the enthusiasm for learning is tangible. It seemed a perfect time to be inspected.

As luck would have it, on Tuesday we received notice that Ofsted would be visiting. Without hesitation, the school community set to work with the final preparations. Parent surveys were completed, key documents were sent to the inspectorate, pizza and emergency chocolate was supplied as teachers polished lesson plans and classrooms. At the end of the day there was a real confidence that we were absolutely ready.

Sadly, Wednesday’s inspection was a wholly negative experience for everyone involved. One inspector for one day meant that the scope of the inspection was always likely to be limited, and with only one hour of the day spent in classrooms, this was indeed the case. The rest of the time was spent interrogating data and staff. We are still struggling to come to terms with the fact that the inspector did not appear to take into consideration so many of the things the school does brilliantly – the rich curriculum, the arts, the PE, the music and Mandarin. She didn’t set foot in our wonderful playground, nor venture into the Family Centre. She declined the offer of a school meal, didn’t have time to pop in to Dr Szydlo’s science lecture and missed out the Early Birds and Night Owls. Most alarmingly, she chose not to visit our Nursery and Reception children, brilliantly settled and happy in their first week of school.

The fact that it was only a one-day inspection suggests that we will remain a ‘Good’ school, but that’s not the point. We wanted to show off what we offer our children and feel disappointed that it wasn’t seen.

But does it really matter?

At the end of the day on Friday I was chatting with a child in the playground. She was really laughing, I was smiling and the sun was shining. The girl’s mother joined us and shared with me that Highgate Primary ‘is a piece of heaven’. At the end of an emotional week, it’s the many heartfelt comments like these that mean so much. I feel incredibly proud to lead our school and your feedback is so much more important to us than a judgement from Ofsted.

William