How a library can succeed with Ofsted

In my previous, and much viewed post about Ofsted and the school library I laid out my beliefs about what a library should do when Ofsted call and the types of things Ofsted will be looking for. You can read this here.

Unfortunately, even with the added focus being placed on literacy and reading in schools and many many reports mentioning both of these Ofsted still seem at a loss to be able to actually quantify what they should see concerning reading and especially reading for pleasure.

They clearly point that a lack of literacy is affecting the work place and can give numerous examples where literacy in areas such as road signs and the greengrocers apostrophe are showing a serious lack of literacy in the work place.

Important as this as, and on the correct path, but when it comes to reading and especially reading for pleasure they still seem at a loss.

There are numerous reports from this country, including from the National Literacy Trust, and across the Atlantic that highlight the importance of young people choosing to read for pleasure. It is the greatest marker on future success, even more important than socio-economic, gender or age.

These reports also include in them a short description as to what reading for pleasure actually means. Even by simply looking on the internet or doing any kind of search it is easy to see the commonly accepted definition of reading for pleasure.

It is simply being able to read what you want when you want in whatever way you want to do it. It seems simple really but unfortunately Ofsted seem to link pleasure reading with direct improvement in reading. Yes, if you read for pleasure you will improve and yes if you read books at the right level then you will also improve but the two do not and should not go together.

There are certainly a number of issues that I have with this. But I also believe that if you can show that what you are doing is working then there is no argument to be had. For instance I’m more concerned with the non cognitive role in reading and how this needs to be engaged before a young person can even think about progressing in reading. These attitudes need to be met before a young person can achieve the ability of reading improvement. It’s an ongoing thought process that needs to be worked on all the time especially as it means that even if you succeed in developing the non cognitive initial push into reading that a student may still slip back down and need help again. In fact the model of reading shows that this will be an inevitability.

But outside of reading for pleasure what else should an Ofsted inspector be looking for? How can we define what it is we do beyond our four walls and the impact that we have across the school? Ultimately what are the guidelines for a school library to be a success with Ofsted?

When it comes to looking at how you can assess a library through an Ofsted inspection I feel a library should not need to be visited to see the impact that it has. If a library is doing a good job it will be seen in every classroom and every corridor. To this effect I have created my own version of the grade descriptors of what an inspector should look for in a school library.

They are still are in draft format and I’d like to spend a bit more time working on them but ultimately the bones are there.

See what you think and whether you agree of not.

Supplementary subject-specific guidance for the library

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