OFSTED THE TRUTH!
Having read through the Ofsted report these are the findings that we think will be of most interest to members of staff.
Effectiveness of leadership and management
This is what the inspectors think managers at all levels have failed to do generally. (Not in all cases and not in all areas of the college)
- Senior leaders, managers and governors have not sufficiently addressed the areas for improvement identified at the previous inspection. As a result, the quality of provision has declined.
- Managers do not clearly identify the impact of the actions they have taken. As a result, the quality of provision is not consistently good.
- Managers have not acted to improve weaker subject areas.
- Leaders and managers do not set sufficiently challenging targets through the strategic plan or self-assessment process to help them drive improvements.
- Managers do not undertake a detailed analysis of achievement gaps for different groups (women, disabled, minorities)
This is what the inspectors think about the new management structures.
- Senior leaders have recently rationalised the structure of the management team. Managers are not supported to clarify their roles with teachers and staff.
- Managers do not skilfully manage their teams to improve the quality of provision and the experiences of students.
These two points are possibly the most worrying. Under the new structures, which will shape how things work out in the future, managers do not seem to know what they are supposed to be doing (possibly because the new areas they have been given to manage are impossibly large and unfamiliar) and have been put in a position where they find it difficult, if not impossible, to skilfully manage.
This is what the inspectors think managers should be doing more of.
- Senior leaders and managers do not provide effective professional development for teachers to improve their skills.
- Managers do not ensure that teachers receive feedback or training that improves the quality of their practice.
It’s worth noting that Ofsted use the phrase as a result twice. The inspectors may have many shortcomings but carelessness with language is not one of them. They do really think that management failings have caused the quality of provision to decline.
Quality of teaching, learning and assessment
This is what the inspectors think lecturers are failing to do generally (Not in all cases and not in all areas of the college)
- Managers and Teachers do not have high enough expectations for students in terms of academic progress, attendance, punctuality, behaviour and don’t challenge them to improve.
- Most teachers do not plan sessions well enough for students using the information they have on their starting points.
- Teachers do not set or review academic, attendance, punctuality and behaviour targets for students frequently enough.
- Teachers do not sufficiently check students’ understanding.
- Teachers use questions skilfully in a minority of theory sessions to assess students’ prior knowledge and skills.
- Teachers do not check learning sufficiently before moving on to the next topic or task. At times, teachers do not plan activities to improve students’ skills and knowledge.
- Teachers do not sufficiently improve students’ English and mathematics skills
- Teachers do not provide sufficient specific and encouraging feedback to students.Students do not have an in-depth understanding of the risks associated with extremism and radicalisation.
- Teachers and staff do not challenge students’ lateness to sessions.
- The number of students attending external work placements is too low.
It’s worth adding,
- Most students and apprentices enjoy attending their learning programmes.
So, according to the inspectors, the problems are complex and wide-ranging. Draw your own conclusions about what should happen next but don’t believe anyone who suggests the solutions will be straightforward.
UCU was due to meet with college quality representatives on Thursday to discuss the new observation framework, which looks progressive and interesting. This meeting has been cancelled. No reason has been given and no further meeting has been scheduled. Whether or not this bodes ill for lecturing staff is hard to say at the moment. We’ll keep you informed.
When the full Ofsted report is published UCU will read it carefully and let you know what we think.
Meanwhile, many of you will have attended Dianne’s presentations which gave an indication of how college management intends to interpret the findings. Her argument seemed to be, the disappointing grade achieved for teaching and learning made it inevitable that management would receive a similarly disappointing grade. She elaborated on this a little when she said that good or excellent management structures and processes might all be in place but could not be judged as good or excellent if classroom teaching was not effective. The conclusion we were invited to draw from this is that lecturers have been provided with suitable structures and processes to work with but have not made proper use of them. Thus, it is substantially the fault of lecturers and not management that the grades achieved were not what was hoped for.
UCU rejects this argument. Dianne gave no reason why the argument should not have been stated like this: the disappointing grade achieved for management made it inevitable that teaching and learning would achieve a similar grade. Thus it is substantially the fault of management that the grades achieved were not what was hoped for.
Which way round should the argument go? One answer, of course, is it depends on who has the loudest voice and the most power. And, (although I hate to disappoint), that would be college management.
Another answer is to forget trying to apportion blame and to look carefully and thoughtfully at what’s actually happening. Perhaps all we can say at the moment is, austerity, management decisions and classroom teaching have all contributed to the college’s disappointing Ofsted grade. Because everybody, if we’re honest, knows that any kind of binary, blaming argument makes no sense if you’re trying to understand and solve a complicated problem. (I’m sure I’m not the only one thinking Brexit here.)
When we’ve read the final report we’ll try to suggest some ways forward.
UCU at the college would like to absolutely clear about why the consultation period has had to be extended. College began holding meetings with affected groups of staff before UCU had received formal notification that a process was due to begin. Consultation cannot commence before the trade union/s have been provided with the necessary information. We are extremely disappointed that Bournemouth and Poole management did not provide the necessary information to UCU in a timely way, and our regional support official wrote to Diane Grannell immediately to register this concern. We have now received the required S188 letter and some of the relevant information we need. UCU requested an extension to the collective consultation period which has now been agreed.
UCU is currently meeting with the college weekly to discuss the process. If anyone has an issue they’d like us to raise please let us know. At the moment we are focusing on the matrix that might be used to select members of staff for particular roles. The College has proposed that the areas of comparison should be, skills and qualifications; experience; performance records; mandatory training and disciplinary records. There would be a score out of 5 given for each area. UCU feel that the matrix process has not been sufficiently thought through. If you have any thoughts on this let us know.
We are also discussing whether or not the process is fair in terms of Equality of Opportunity. If you have any thoughts on this, again let us know.
There are a number of ways redundancies might be avoided, reduced or their effects mitigated. These include, finding other savings; recruitment freezes; cuts to agency staff; temporary cuts to overtime or discretionary benefits; short-term salary freezes; pay cuts; temporary flexible working arrangements; sabbaticals; secondment; unpaid leave; increased part-time work and home-working to reduce overheads and job shares. You should make sure all of these possibilities have been explored in your area. Failure to explore all reasonable ideas exposes the employer to the risk of a protective award (compensation for the employee).
We’d like to hear from any members under threat of redundancy who are currently being funded by the college to complete education or training courses.