Friday, 21 March 2014

The Day When Ofsted Inspected My Flipped Classroom

The Day Ofsted Visited Inspected My Flipped Classroom

"The Call Came" What would Ofsted think of my Flipped Year 3 classroom?

I've been poised to write this post since we were visited by Ofsted a couple of weeks back.  But I have had to wait for the final draft of the report to arrive back in school so I can actually talk publicly about our recent Ofsted visit, and how they reported on my flipped classroom.

First, a bit of Ofsted context.

We got the call on Tuesday afternoon, meaning the team would be with us in the morning for the two day inspection. I was actually at home in bed ill, not a day off all year and they choose to ring now - typical. Right, action stations.

We met the inspectors in the morning and they seemed an open, approachable team who wanted us to take risks in the classroom.

Taking Risks: The Flipped Approach

Over the previous few weeks I had been experimenting with the flipped classroom, with a particular focus on mathematics.  From the advice given in Flipped Classroom: Reach Every Student In Every Class, Every Day by Aaron Sams and Jonathan Bergmann, I chose to start with one subject this term - mathematics. I couldn't turn back now, the children had been using video in their mathematics sessions for a couple of weeks now.

This week I had planned to focus on written methods of division and then applying them to real life problems when the children felt they were ready to do so.  I emailed the children these two videos that I had found on YouTube from

Long Division:
Short Division: 

I had emailed the videos to the parents and the children on Saturday and asked them to watch the videos over the weekend, no pressure, but try to watch it, have a go and then bring any questions or misconceptions to school on Monday.  Now, I took ill on Monday, and didn't make it school on Tuesday, but crucially the videos had been sent out and more crucially, they had been watched by the children.

Learning Without Limits:

I highly recommend reading and investing plenty of time into Dame Alison Peakcock's research - Learning Without Limits  

The children in my class are offered three or four "challenges" around a topic of maths and they self differentiate their learning based on their success or failures from the previous lesson.  When marking I offer the children a question to answer in their books before allowing them to choose their own level of challenge in the next lesson.  

We do not group children by ability.  Our children flow from one challenge to another, pushing themselves forward without a capped limit. This way children always see learning as just a next step, something that anybody can try. You don't need to be on a certain table to try a certain challenge - anybody can try anything.

Taking Risks: The Observation.

Ten minutes into my mathematics session the lead inspector walked into my classroom, just as a group of children, who had chosen to practice the short method of division as their challenge for this session, started to work independently. 

I had a group of six or seven children who had chosen to stay with me briefly to explore their misconceptions with long division. 

Now, this is where the children really excelled.  The children knew which part of the calculation strategy they were challenged by. They could tell me, in detail, because they had watched the video before the session.  They had already had a go at home and now they needed their teacher to help them. 

They'd found their own personalised next steps because of the video clips.

Within minutes of starting the lesson, the children had identified their next steps, self differentiated the level of challenge and began their learning. Then the real magic happened - bring on the videos!

I put MacBooks and a few iPads on each table with the videos saved as bookmarks for the children to access throughout the lesson. Now, I had taught the children how to "watch a video," (I've blogged about it here - Pause, Rewind My Teacher) and the children demonstrated this right under the nose of the inspector.  When the inspector questioned the children about the videos, they modelled using the video and talked about how it was helping them learn.

Video in the lesson via iPads and MacBooks
Throughout the lesson the children were confidently using the video to drive their learning forward when they needed help.  This approach enabled me to spend more time questioning children's understanding and moving learning on.  I had saved valuable learning time. When I received feedback at the end of the day the lead inspector commented positively at how confidently the children used the technology to learn.  They didn't use it because it was there, they used it because they needed to improve their learning. 

Taking Risks: The Outcomes

What better way to endorse the use of a flipped classroom than a direct quote from our Ofsted report:

I've seen how powerful this approach can be over the past few weeks and I have used it again this last week when we were learning about fractions.  The children have been pre-learning, bringing questions and misconceptions to mathematics lessons and making quicker progress because of it.

This approach needs time to embed in your classroom and the children need to buy into the advantages that pre-learning can give them. Remember, it doesn't need to be a video, it could be a hand written model of a calculation or part of a text.  The point is that the children have experienced the learning before the session.

I'm looking forward to seeing where this approach will take my class and how far it can drive the learning on.

The Overall Inspection Experience.

The inspection team were very fair, human, and were willing to listen to the things I had achieved in the classroom.  My advice - be cheeky, ask them to meet you to share things you've achieved in the classroom.  Don't wait for them to see things around your school, just show them and make sure you can talk impact.  

Paste outstanding practice around your classroom. Make it so obvious that they walk into it, if not show them. 

Follow Me On Twitter:  @ChrisWaterworth


  1. This a great advice, can I ask where did you got the challenges for the children to complete?

  2. Sorry meant to say get! Predictive text

  3. I created them myself, questions on the whiteboard using NoteBook Software. You can spend so long searching for them that suit your class, that you may as well just create them yourself.

  4. CLap Clap Clap ....... Another accolade to Flipped Classroom :)