The elusive outstanding

I have read a number of blogs and newspaper articles relating to the subject of OFSTED lately and it has come to my attention just how many ‘points of view’ there are around OFSTED experiences.  Firstly, I want to start off by saying this is my own personal experience and consequently, I did debate weather or not to share the content of this post, in that not wanting to appear boastful.  The title for the blog stems for the fact this is my first outstanding lesson, previously my teaching had been classified in house as “Good’.  I therefore found the outstanding category somewhat elusive.  The main reasons I want to share this blog post are to be reflective and share my feedback in a bid to help others.  ICT, as a subject, has also been in the media spotlight lately regarding it’s content, how it’s taught and it’s future.

 The inspector

A lot has been written lately regarding inspectors, however I can’t speak more highly of the person who observed my lesson.  I also met them to discuss CPD in a separate meeting later in the inspection.  Although I know the persons name and it would be unfair of me to mention them in this post therefore they will remain anonymous.  They are an ICT specialist and often when people say that in ICT it can be taken with a pinch of salt.  Not in this case, they knew the subject, the course, the software and what I was trying to achieve with the students.  They also actively engage in social media, training and ICT projects, they ‘get it’ and it was very refreshing music to my ears.  I found the inspection on the whole a very positive experience.

The lesson

I was observed with my Year 11 Option class.  A group of students who have opted for OCR Nationals Level 2 in Year 10 and who were studying Unit 3 Digital Imaging.  Students had completed designing their graphics; the topic of the lesson was exporting graphics and file formats in Macromedia Fireworks.  The class included a range of abilities and some characters!

The planning for this lesson was undertaken in collaboration with another colleague (@audiobluez) and is actively encouraging within our ICT department. Outstanding learning needs to be teachers working in collaboration and not isolation.  We planned and discussed the lesson and tailored it to my students with their specific needs in mind.  For example, I decided to design a tutorial to support the lesson as well as other differentiated resources.  Therefore, the outstanding lesson was as much my colleagues within my department as it was mine.

I took risks in my lesson, often when I have been observed in the past I have played safe.  I made the decision this time to push the boundaries and to teach as I normally do, basically forgetting about the person in the room and that’s what I did. I spoke to students for 3 minutes in total in the 30 minutes the lesson was observed; I know this is difficult in other subject areas.  I believe in ICT, students should be working with the teacher supporting and facilitating the learning and not necessarily having all the answers.

My favourite part of my feedback was a students comment: ‘this is what the lessons are normally like.’

Below are my feedback notes unedited:

  • Outstanding behaviour and relationships with students observed – All students’ on task at all times and engrossed in their work.
  • Outstanding resources of a professional standard and highly effective for students to progress at all levels.
  • All students made outstanding progress and applied what they had learnt.
  • Students learning challenging industry stand software – Adobe Macromedia Fireworks
  • Independent learning was evident throughout the lesson.  Not teacher led, students working on their own with subtle interventions and help when required rather than doing if for them.
  • Students actively working and helping each other in the lesson to learn and progress.
  • Particularly liked the tutorial and example/model answer, then students applied what they had learnt.
  • No teacher demonstration – students led their own learning and worked at their own pace with guidance/challenge.
  • Differentiation – students who completed the task knew exactly what they had to next and could move on to progress to the higher Distinction Grade.
  • Could clearly see student’s progress in the short and long term.  More importantly students confirmed this in the lesson when asked.

Questions inspector asked students:

Have you done this before?

Would you like to continue with ICT at College?

Can you tell me what you are doing and why?

Why do you need to export the graphic’s?  What is a JPEG, TIFF and GIF?

What level are you working at?  Do you feel you are making good progress?

Is this a typical lesson?

Do you like ICT?  If so why?

What’s behaviour normally like in your ICT lessons?

How confident are you at using this software?

How often is your folder marked and how do you know how to improve your work?

I am in no way suggesting I have all the answers, far from it.  I am more so proud of my outstanding students, who deserve to show the outstanding progress they made on the course and their ICT skills to boot.  I really enjoy teaching the OCR Nationals course and despite the media hype regarding the state of ICT in schools, this is a really good course that students enjoy and if delivered in the right way is challenging.  I hope you have found this blog post useful!  If you would like a copy of my lesson plan and resource’s or have any question please do not hesitate to contact me.

My top tips:


Be yourself and try to treat it as a normal lesson.  (This is a mind-set and is easier said than done)


Take risks

Be flexible – Don’t be afraid to change if the plan isn’t working.

Share, collaborate, design and discuss the lesson with colleagues or your PLN on twitter

Get to know your group of students and their specific needs.

Be enterprising.

My final tip – It’s about the students and their LEARNING.



7 thoughts on “The elusive outstanding

  1. Enjoying your blog. If not being too cheeky I would appreciate sight of your lesson plan & resources as I am teaching the same course and expecting Ofsted soon this would be most helpful at this time.

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