Working in Further Education

How to Boss the Role of an Ofsted Nominee

December 6, 2022

Table of Contents

Barbara Veeramallay-Permau, a highly regarded consultant in education, has dedicated her career to helping schools and educators achieve their best potential, including preparing for inspections by the Office for Standards in Education, Children's Services and Skills (Ofsted). In this blog post, Barbara's give her insights on the critical role of an Ofsted nominee.  Whether you are an educator, a member of a school's senior leadership team, or simply interested in the Ofsted inspection process, Barbara's words will be informative and enlightening.

Ofsted Nominee Insights

With 25+ years in the skills sector I think I may have learned a few hints and tips on how to navigate around the fear of an inspection. During My career I have been an assessor, an IQA, Lead IQA, Delivery Manager, Head of QA, Director of QA, a DSL and also an Ofsted Nominee. I understand how to lead a skills provision when it comes to getting great results.

I started my journey of inspections with the Adult Learning Inspectorate and was very fortunate to observe some real masters in the sector at work. I learned that bossing an inspection is both a challenge and also an opportunity for huge learning about best practice with enormous rewards for all. My mentor instilled in me to not be afraid, but to be brave. You should direct inspectors towards the great things you do, enjoy the experience and most of all: learn.

You may think I am unique, or even odd in welcoming an inspection, but I'm not. I know of many out there that rise to the challenge in some real make or break situations and a “Great Nominee” can impact the grading up…

My first time as a nominee was a very scary place and it taught me some very valuable lessons. After the inspection, I had learned more about how to navigate an inspection next time, what I needed to do differently, how I needed  to prepare and how to take the business on that journey. A journey that must start long before notification.  

Preparation, leadership, teamwork, living the EIF, self assessment and improvement planning are all imperative. None of these things can be done hours before you “get the call”.

Preparation is Key

Preparation is right up there and when I say preparation, I mean understanding the business well, very well! Nominees need to know the good, the bad and often the ugly so they can navigate and lead the narrative with exceptional confidence and gravitas. This includes robust self assessment and improvement planning.

Preparation is also very much about bringing the business on that journey, making the quality of education everyone's responsibility. Capturing exceptional work and learner experiences by asking learners and employers “how is it for you? What can we do better?’ This needs to happen regularly not just when you know you are in scope for inspection. You should be analysing findings and putting improvements into action.

KNOW YOUR DATA! I can't say that loudly enough. Data tells the real story and directs the leadership, so master the art in data storytelling. It's powerful and is your source of truth.

One of my absolute musts is to establish a quality committee enabling a constant narrative. Updates and improvements are discussed on a monthly basis so everyone is involved and hopefully this allows you to share your vision and passion in doing great things that impact learners and employers.

My greatest golden nugget is building an Ofsted Support Team, which I like to refer to as the ORT. This is a team of carefully selected individuals with specialisms across your business that will be on hand during the inspection to grab information and support the planning process. We know all great plans gets changed in an inspection so having the best hands to the pump is a must.

My ORT consists of:

  • Data specialist
  • Planning coordinator to coordinate activities and update changes
  • Delivery role
  • Senior management - Comms to the business throughout
  • DSL
  • Admin support - uploading requested information
  • Employer and stakeholder engagement

When that “call” comes the nominee has to be the leader, no questions about this.

They should focus on building the relationship with the lead inspector right at the point of the first planning meeting. A great nominee grabs the trust of the inspectors at the starting line. It’s all about them having confidence in you as the nominee. After all, a great nominee is someone that loves education with a passion and seeks out the good and outstanding; a leader that is passionate to lead others to do great things to improve learners lives and experiences.

It's good to remember that inspectors are human too and it's very likely they have been right where you are in their past careers. So be kind, attentive, and serve, as I'm sure we all know great leaders serve first! Lead the process with confidence and don't be afraid if you don't have all the answers, that's where your ORT comes into its own…

Teamwork is crucial along with the leadership of the nominee. It's very much about passing information between the inspectorate and the business swiftly so you can present the best examples, scenarios or data with agility and accuracy. It's about sharing daily feedback to the business, knowing when to bring additional evidence to the morning kick off calls and calming those involved throughout the inspection.

My absolute advice is be calm. Calm your team because a calm environment is a great one within which to achieve great results.

I wanted to share a quote from my last inspection in August 2022:

To Barbara Veeramallay-Permaul our Ofsted Nominee, well what can I say, other than pass on the comment made to me by the Lead Inspector.

" Barbara has done an outstanding job for you"

It's extremely hard to capture all my experience hints and tips. There is oodles to tell so if you need any support, advice, would like me to visit to assess where you are or simply want to grab a cuppa and spend time with me please reach out …. I know I can help to take away the fear of Ofsted and demystify the process…

Good Luck!

Barbara Veeramallay-Permaul
Barbara is an education leader with over 25 years in the skills and education sectors. She has a strong track record of steering organisations to meet industry standards and regulatory bodies such as Ofsted, having achieved Ofsted Good rating in her last 4 inspections. She is passionate about learner and employer experience, building great relationships and meeting organisational goals. Currently, Barbara is a NED for 2 organisations, as well as an expert quality, compliance, and safeguarding consultant to many others.