Any educator in the UK knows how important evaluations from Ofsted are. They also know how serious it is to be put on special measures.

By law, schools in the UK are inspected by Ofsted with the aim of providing information to parents and promoting improvement in schools. One of the less desirable outcomes is to be put on special measures, a probationary period in which Ofsted assesses a school over a period of time until improvements are observed.

Nic Ford, the former deputy headteacher of Pleckgate High School in Blackburn, UK, talked to Showbie about how they accomplished the impressive feat of getting out of special measures in one year — nearly half the time it typically takes schools in the same situation. He attributed this success to the hard work of Pleckgate teachers, as well as utilizing the right technology.

First, they spent time extensively training their teachers and students on 1:1 iPads, and made sure they had an accessible track record of all of the assignments and feedback they collected digitally. A tool he believes was key to their success was Showbie — particularly its feedback and annotation abilities (such as voice & text notes), and the dialogue this created between students and teachers.

We were able to come out of special measures within a year, and one of the things that Ofsted liked was the feedback they saw and heard on Showbie. It was personalized, it was individual, it was detailed and it was verbal. It felt more personal, and students were responding to that feedback.

Since Ofsted reports are public, Nic pointed us in the direction of the Ofsted report that detailed the impact their 1:1 training and use of technology had on their visit on July 1, 2014:

“There is evidence of innovative use of technology. For example, in religious education students listen on their tablet computers to their teacher giving feedback on their work, to which they are able to verbally respond.”


Nic is at Bolton School now, where he is deputy head, and the students and teachers there also use Showbie extensively. He believes that the communication between students, teachers and parents in Showbie is an important quality that many schools can benefit from, especially when it comes to showing Ofsted.

Showbie is a fantastic tool for giving feedback, and that’s one of the key things Ofsted looks for when they’re making judgements on teaching and learning. It’s great that we were able to show that we engaged in that dialogue with teachers and parents.

There’s no doubt that the hard work put forth by Pleckgate’s educators was absolutely instrumental in improving their situation, we’re just glad Showbie was there to help along the way.

With newer features such as Portfolio and Parent Access (coming later this year), demonstrating and sharing records of student/teacher feedback to Ofsted will become even easier.

Do any other educators in the UK have an experience sharing Showbie with Ofsted? If so, we’d love to hear about it! Tweet us @Showbie or email me at

As Showbie’s community journalist, Katie is eager to explore the latest information in education and classroom technology. When she isn’t scribing her next story for Showbie, she's researching the next big thing in schools around the world. Email tips and ideas to

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