Why do schools get put into a category?
Many schools get judged as “Requiring Improvement” or even “Inadequate” from an Ofsted inspection when they think this is unjustified. This can be for a variety of reasons, but some of the most common are outlined below within leadership and teaching.
Further guidance will follow with a focus on Behaviour and SMSC.
Making the “wrong” judgements
- The schools’ own judgements are too high and their perceptions are different from reality. This might be because they have not paid enough attention to the descriptors (especially as they keep changing) or that they are making judgments based on insufficient data or hard evidence.
- Leaders’ expectations are too low and therefore any targets they set will not lead to tangible and speedy improvement.
- Systems and processes for self review and evaluation are insufficiently developed and, because of this, priorities are sometime wrongly identified or missed altogether. Leaders and governors are unable to convince inspectors that they have a realistic picture of the school’s strengths and its weaknesses and know exactly what needs to be done to make improvement where necessary.
Lack of Strategic Planning
- Leaders and governors do have an idea of the weaknesses, but the plans to address them are not clear, focused or strategic enough. Senior leaders must be able to demonstrate that they have the ability to be focused on strategies and interventions which are not just short term fixes to solve an immediate problem, but contain key actions which will lead to long term, sustainable improvements.
- They do not monitor and evaluate the progress of any plans and therefore do not have enough evidence to show that the strategies and interventions which are being implemented are having a positive and measurable impact (quickly enough).
- you must be sure that your judgements are secure and in alignment with Ofsted descriptors;
- you must be able to demonstrate the actions you are taking are the right ones;
- you have to be able to show impact;
- it is not enough for a school just to make improvement – it has to be sustainable.
LEADERSHIP and TEACHING
Vision and the Practice out of alignment
- The headteacher and the senior team might know what the school stands for and what the long term aims are, but unless these are known and understood by the whole community the school is unlikely to turn the vision into reality. Schools in a category to often have a gap between what they say they do and the everyday practice which happens.
- There is a lack of clarity about how key actions and practices fit together. Lots of things happen but there is no coherence and leaders and others cannot see the complete picture. Staff often work very hard but have insufficient impact because activities overlap or don’t link. This can lead to inefficiencies and often disengagement.
Leadership too contained
- Having a longer term, strategic view has to involve leaders throughout the school. Good schools have clear paths for developing leadership skills and thus have good capacity for sustaining improvements. The capacity of a team is a crucial element in the overall leadership judgement.
Lack of focus on the core purpose – Improving teaching and achievement
- Schools sometimes do not have a concentrated focus on improving teaching and ensuring it has a positive impact upon standards of achievement. All schools have some processes in place for monitoring the quality of teaching but in schools that require improvement they have insufficient impact.
- Observation systems are not evaluative and developmental enough and either individual teachers or the quality of teaching in a subject or overall make insufficient improvements over time. Schools must be able to demonstrate that there are trends of improvement and that they are sustainable.
- Too much under performance is tolerated. There is a lack of willingness from leaders to “bite the bullet” if action needs to be taken.
- make sure that clear structures and systems are in place to support the aims of the school;
- ensure that leadership has a clear overview of all the practices and how they fit together and combine to drive improvement
- ensure that leadership is not limited and that planned training and development exists;
- have really clear policies and practices for the observation and development of teaching and make sure there is evidence of positive impact;
- have zero tolerance of under-performance and react quickly if it identified.
Training courses on how to ensure you are judged at least as Good, will be running in a number of locations during the Spring and Summer Terms.
Details of venues and dates are available here
Imminent ones are:
Thursday, 7th February 2013 in Birmingham
Monday, 11th February 2012 in Maidstone
We also offer mock inspections and SEF writing services. Again details are available on the website or contact Louise on 0844 963 2242 or Terry Rollings on 07917080205
Lessons Learned – Online lesson observation storage and analysis system. The system allows your school to observe against your own framework, offering comprehensive grade descriptors as evidence for your chosen judgement. Because it is Internet based you can save comments using an ipad or Android Tablet in real time during an observation. After discussion and agreement about the judgements the results are then immediately saved on the school system.
Lessons Learned – The Practical Handbook for Improving Teaching. This provides a clear framework, describing the elements and characteristics of an effective lesson as well as giving guidance on feedback and the use of secondary sources in addition to observation. The handbook will ensure that there is consistency of understanding about what effective teaching looks like across the school. It will also mean that there is a high quality system of observation in place and that all judgements are reliable against Ofsted criteria.
Sources of further information
School inspection handbook. http://www.ofsted.gov.uk/resources/school-inspection-handbook-september-2012
Briefings and Information for use during Inspections of Maintained Schools and Academies http://www.ofsted.gov.uk/resources/briefings