1. The Head of Department must keep meticulous minutes to all meetings including departmental and working parties etc. These should be kept in an indexed folder or filed away carefully. Ensure that references to previous minutes include action(s) taken following the previous meetings.
2. It may be advisable to have certain topics constantly on the agenda, for instance, Health and Safety.
3.Have regular, additional, informal, departmental meetings where the only item on the agenda is an aspect of the OFSTED inspection. Start these meetings at the beginning of the year of a possible inspection date. This will give you plenty of time to organise vital paper work and prepare staff. Take one aspect of the inspection at a time, e.g. schemes of work. Ask for all staff to contribute to the writing of schemes. This is good professional development  and it also spreads the workload. Set dates for the completion of each aspect of the inspection material.


4. Schemes of work most be prepared in detail. Also, it is a good idea for the schemes to be a team effort. It may be advisable for the department to apply for the W.A.T.T. Quality mark. This is free and is a useful process to go through. It also allows the department to apply the quality mark to schemes or project work showing that the schemes/work have been carefully considered and vetted. Each member of staff should be issued with an overall calendar/plan that contains important dates such as the change over of classes and a simple outline of schemes of work. (See the schemes of work on this site)


5. The Head of Department should regularly carry out performance management of staff within the department. Keep rigidly to the performance management guidelines in your school. Do not fall behind and keep detailed records of lesson observations and staff interviews. Although this takes time you should find that lesson cover is available. If it is not available approach your teaching union or professional association immediately. Remember, Heads of Department should also be observed and go through the performance management procedure.


6. Look carefully at the Departmental Policy Document on the W.A.T.T. site (click here). Compare it to your existing document and update it regularly. Do not forget the policy document from one OFSTED to the next. Writing or updating a policy document in the days approaching an OFSTED is very time consuming and increases the pressure on the head of department. Ensure that all staff receive updates to the policy document regularly and that they read it and understand it. A very good idea is to involve all staff in its construction. Apply for a W.A.T.T. Quality mark, completing the application form. This will show that you are applying a standard to your work. Read advice given in the sample policy document and take appropriate steps.


7. Make sure that all staff have opportunities to view the lessons of others in the department. Keep records of evaluations written by staff. This has the added advantage that staff get use to being observed, making it easier during an OFSTED inspection.


8. Regularly check staff record books and sign them at least each month. Ensure that the record books include class lists with appropriate coding for SEN pupils and Gifted and Talented pupils etc..... Ensure that staff keep a simple record of each lesson and regularly set/record  homework.


9. Ask senior management to carry out an informal/helpful review of all paperwork. They may be able to indicate any weak areas that need improvement or suggest additions. Although contentious, it may be a good idea for senior management to observe some lessons using the OFSTED criteria.


10. Make sure the all staff understand what is expected of them during an inspection. Most staff will only be concerned with lesson observations. It may be helpful if all staff keep to a similar lesson format. For example, start by line up all classes outside the workshops/classrooms. When pupils enter the classroom the teacher gives a recap on the previous lesson and then introduces the lesson content. It may be that all lessons have a practical aspect and finish with a conclusion in the form of questioning by the teacher. As much or as little detail can be added to the basic lesson outline.


11. Ensure that risk assessments have been carried out for all the schemes of work. This may be time consuming but once it has been done, each assessment can be updated when necessary. Meticulous OFTSED inspectors may ask for these. Also, make sure that all staff have received health and safety training (DATA course recommended). More importantly ensure that during every lesson health and safety is given a top priority and that teachers are seen by all pupils carrying out checks of equipment, ensuring goggles are used etc..... If health and safety organisation is poor during a lesson this will be stressed by the OFSTED inspector in his / her report. Ensure that all workshops have the appropriate safety posters displayed.


12. Make sure that all staff leave workshops tidy at the end of each lesson. There is nothing worse that rushing to a lesson and entering the room to find that the previous teacher has left the room in a dangerous mess, then the OFSTED Inspector walks in. Staff must get in the habit of leaving rooms tidy and safe. This has to be drummed into staff constantly. Heads of department should inspect classrooms/workshops regularly and point out safety and tidiness to staff.


13. Be prepared for unforeseen circumstances such as staff absence. Have a number of prepared information sheets or worksheets ready including video/audio resources. There is nothing worse than having to cover a member of staff during an OFSTED week, but it could happen so be prepared. Remember, a specialist member of staff may not be available so prepared cover work should be easy to follow for both staff and pupils.


14. Write detailed lesson plans. See the detailed section of this website for advice and sample lesson plans. (click here for sample lesson plans)


15. All documentation will be sent to the appropriate inspection team (normally collected by a senior manager). Give your self plenty of time to complete all the necessary paperwork.


16. Heads of Department should sample staff marking throughout the year, especially leading up to an OFSTED. Ensure all staff write comments on pupil work as well as a grade according to the departmental policy. Comments should include points suggesting improvements and those that applaud other aspects. Keep all pupil folders, as a selection of work will be inspected by the Subject Inspector - for marking and comments. Usually samples are required from each year and from a range of abilities.