Having endured two Ofsted inspections over the last 1/2 term, one at Buckingham Primary and one at the Royal Latin School, I am shocked at how little both teams have valued the online provision. At Buckingham Primary, one of the teachers even had to explain to the lead inspector what a VLE is! I am not making this up – the lead inspector did not know what a VLE was! Both inspection teams were given an account to login and explore the provision, but neither team used the account at all.
At Buckingham Primary School, every child is given the chance to contribute to the school council via forums, polls and questionnaires. Additionally, the council meets formally to decide the agenda for the online council. However, the inspection team were concerned about the lack of any formal election of school council members – so much for ‘Every child matters’! Why couldn’t the team celebrate the fact that every child has a voice?
The inspection at the Royal Latin School was a pilot for the new inspection regime; I anticipated that the team would, therefore, be very keen to find out how the online provision has impacted upon learning. The lead inspector did come along to our ‘Oscars’ evening and an inspector visited one of my lessons, during which pupils were creating movies using Flash. Was this celebrated (or even mentioned) in the final report? Not at all.
At both schools, pupils from across the school use the VLE to supplement and enhance their learning. Pupils collaborate in forums, teachers prepare online quizzes, and the VLE is used to generate an audience for pupils writing, artwork, movies, music and much more. The impact on the school community is considerable. Were Ofsted interested? Barely.
Personally, I don’t think that schools will invest precious time and increasingly precious money on their online provision until there is a section of the SEF specifically looking at this area. If this was to happen I am sure that currently reticent schools would have to improve their provision, ending with a more enriched curriculum for all!