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Evaluation article: Know your strengths Evaluation article: Developing an ethos of high expectation Achieving an ‘Outstanding’ Grade: Focused on Excellence Evaluation article: HR and the successful school: A case study Evaluation article: Leading the way to outstanding learner progress Evaluation article: Attainment and progress: The Rochford Review Evaluation article: How to create a leadership team that drives school improvement Evaluation article: Prioritising the budget for school improvement Evaluation article: Transforming a failing school Evaluation article: Evaluating alternative and specially resourced provision Evaluation article: Taking a school-wide approach to mental health and wellbeing Evaluation article: The latest developments in education - January 2016 Evaluation article: Managing uncertainty Evaluation article: Pupil voice as an evaluation technique Evaluation article: The latest developments in education - September 2016 Evaluation article: Deconstructing Ofsted: Reflection after inspection Evaluation article: MAT expansion: Don’t let school improvement become a casualty Evaluation article: Ten rules for outstanding leaders Evaluation article: The governing body as a critical friend Evaluation article: Developing an ethos of high expectations Evaluation article: The exam post-mortem Evaluation article: Safeguarding: Everyone’s responsibility Evaluation article: How do inspectors make the judgement about overall effectiveness? The Ofsted model Evaluation article: Effective leadership builds effective teams Evaluation article: Baseline assessment and SEND Evaluation article: Making performance management count in school improvement Evaluation article: Joining or setting up a multi-academy trust Evaluation article: Case study from Carlton Bolling College: Ensuring high-quality governance Evaluation article: Using pupil voice to support school evaluation Evaluation article: What are the signs of a good school improvement service adviser? Evaluation article: Headteachers’ appraisal Evaluation article: Making CPD work harder Evaluation article: Using the Framework for governance Evaluation article: Interpreting the inspection dashboard Evaluation article: The government's Prevent guidance Evaluation article: Improving provision for the most able Evaluation article: Personal development, behaviour and welfare Evaluation article: Is there a mental health crisis in our schools? Evaluation article: Evaluating the effectiveness of assessment Evaluation article: Raising boys’ achievement Evaluation article: National standards of excellence for headteachers Evaluation article: Governors and the inspection interview Evaluation article: Monitoring and coaching through lesson observation Evaluation article: CPD: Less measurement and more development Evaluation article: Challenging 
the most able Evaluation article: Using the teachers’ standards as a framework for CPD and accountability Evaluation article: Managing behaviour outside the classroom Evaluation article: Managing pupils’ behaviour in lessons Evaluation article: Keeping Children Safe Statutory Guidance Evaluation article: Four steps to school improvement Evaluation article: Finding a way through the jungle: The essence of leadership Evaluation article: How to audit your whole-school literacy provision Evaluation article: Professional development: the growing case for evidence Evaluation article: Getting personal  with CPD Evaluation article: Making performance appraisal an objective and helpful process Evaluation article: Parent View — an update Evaluation article: Raising pupil achievement through parental engagement: a practical approach Evaluation article: Effective parental engagement

Evaluation article: Know your strengths

Can you make inspection an enriching learning process that is actually good for your school? Heather Clements of Best Practice Network offers some advice. 

Evaluation article: Developing an ethos of high expectation

In this article, Steve Burnage shares some practical strategies to enable school leaders to develop an ethos of high expectation in their schools. 

Achieving an ‘Outstanding’ Grade: Focused on Excellence

Tony Powell outlines a step-by-step approach to support schools in achieving the accolade of ‘outstanding’ as defined by Ofsted.

Evaluation article: HR and the successful school: A case study

Adrian Kneeshaw, Headteacher of Carlton Bolling College, gives a personal viewpoint of the benefits of bringing in the experts.

Evaluation article: Leading the way to outstanding learner progress

Steve Burnage discusses engaging with good practice in the leadership of teaching and learning.

Evaluation article: Attainment and progress: The Rochford Review

Tony Powell reports on the findings of the final Rochford Review.

Evaluation article: How to create a leadership team that drives school improvement

A high-performing leadership team is at the centre of any school improvement mission. But how do you go about creating an excellent SLT? Colin McLean of Best Practice Network asks…

Evaluation article: Prioritising the budget for school improvement

Adrian Kneeshaw of Carlton Bolling school gives advice on how to focus school spending on improvement planning.

Evaluation article: Transforming a failing school

Matt Bromley offers some advice on turning around an underperforming school in a short space of time while laying down the foundations for sustainable improvement.

Evaluation article: Evaluating alternative and specially resourced provision

Tony Powell explains how inspectors gather evidence and make judgements on the quality of alternative and specially resourced provision.

Evaluation article: Taking a school-wide approach to mental health and wellbeing

With concerns about mental health rising, what can schools do to help their pupils? Suzanne O’Connell outlines the advice available from the National Children’s Bureau and how it might be…

Evaluation article: The latest developments in education - January 2016

Suzanne O’Connell provides a look at what’s currently being discussed, debated and determined in the world of education.

Evaluation article: Managing uncertainty

If you are struggling with a sense of uncertainty, be reassured: you are not alone. 2016 has been a year of upheaval, with the promise of big changes on the…

Evaluation article: Pupil voice as an evaluation technique

Tony Powell provides guidance on how to use discussion with pupils as a tool for self-evaluation.

Evaluation article: The latest developments in education - September 2016

Suzanne O’Connell provides a look at what’s currently being discussed, debated and determined in the world of education.

Evaluation article: Deconstructing Ofsted: Reflection after inspection

Tony Powell looks at how to use the feedback from your inspection in school improvement planning.

Evaluation article: MAT expansion: Don’t let school improvement become a casualty

How can an expanding multi-academy trust ensure that school improvement doesn’t become a casualty of change? Colin McLean of Best Practice Network looks at the issue and offers some guidance.

Evaluation article: Ten rules for outstanding leaders

Adrian Kneeshaw looks at how leadership is important to the success of the school, and how to lead effectively.

Evaluation article: The governing body as a critical friend

In his second article on the headteacher and governor relationship, Tony Powell defines what is meant by a ‘critical friend’.

Evaluation article: Developing an ethos of high expectations

Steve Burnage shares some practical strategies to enable school leaders to develop an ethos of high expectations in their schools.

Evaluation article: The exam post-mortem

Matt Bromley considers how schools can learn from exam performance data and build this into school improvement.

Evaluation article: Safeguarding: Everyone’s responsibility

With new safeguarding guidance released, it’s time to check your arrangements and update your staff.

Evaluation article: How do inspectors make the judgement about overall effectiveness? The Ofsted model

This article outlines the Ofsted methodology for determining whether a school is ‘outstanding’, ‘good’, ‘requires improvement’ or ‘inadequate’.

Evaluation article: Effective leadership builds effective teams

Steve Burnage offers advice on motivating staff, getting the best from them and building effective teams.

Evaluation article: Baseline assessment and SEND

Suzanne O’Connell looks at a report on baseline assessment in primary schools and it’s affect on identifying children with SEND.

Evaluation article: Making performance management count in school improvement

What do you need to do to make performance management a watertight process that makes a real contribution to school improvement? Keith Wright has some suggestions.

Evaluation article: Joining or setting up a multi-academy trust

Tony Stephens, of the Co-operative Academies Trust, looks at what is the best type of multi-academy trust for a school to join or establish.

Evaluation article: Case study from Carlton Bolling College: Ensuring high-quality governance

Adrian Kneeshaw, Headteacher of Carlton Bolling, gives a personal take on renewing a failing governing body having designed and built one from scratch.

Evaluation article: Using pupil voice to support school evaluation

David Birch explains how capturing the views of students can sharpen school self-evaluation and have a positive impact on your school improvement strategies.

Evaluation article: What are the signs of a good school improvement service adviser?

Frank Norris offers advice on how to choose the most appropriate school improvement partner to work with your school.

Evaluation article: Headteachers’ appraisal

David Birch outlines best practice in the management of the headteacher appraisal process and offers advice for headteachers on how to make the most of appraisal in their own professional development.

Evaluation article: Making CPD work harder

Professional development is a crucial factor in school improvement and improving pupil outcomes, but it could work harder, says Keith Wright.

Evaluation article: Using the Framework for governance

Tony Powell looks at how the Framework for governance can be used to clarify the strategic direction of your school.

Evaluation article: Interpreting the inspection dashboard

There is a new inspection dashboard to go with Ofsted's new Common inspection framework. Tony Powell explains how it can be used.

Evaluation article: The government's Prevent guidance

Suzanne O'Connell considers the guidance available regarding Prevent and school leaders' responsibilities.

Evaluation article: Improving provision for the most able

Ofsted reports are making it clear. The DfE wants to see secondary schools challenging their most able students. In this article, Suzanne O’Connell summarises the criticisms and recommendations from ‘The…

Evaluation article: Personal development, behaviour and welfare

Tony Powell looks at the new key area ‘personal development, behaviour and welfare’ under the new Ofsted inspection framework.

Evaluation article: Is there a mental health crisis in our schools?

The mental health of children and young people is at the top of the agenda at the moment. Increased anxiety, self-harm and eating disorders are bringing some schools to crisis…

Evaluation article: Evaluating the effectiveness of assessment

Tony Powell interprets government guidance on assessment to help schools support self-evaluation.

Evaluation article: Raising boys’ achievement

John Viner looks at research into boys’ underachievement and reviews some successful strategies.

Evaluation article: National standards of excellence for headteachers

Tony Powell looks at the revised national standards for headteachers and how they should be used by schools.

Evaluation article: Governors and the inspection interview

Tony Powell discusses how to prepare governors in advance for an inspection interview.

Evaluation article: Monitoring and coaching through lesson observation

John Viner explores ways to develop a culture of continual improvement in teaching through lesson observation.

Evaluation article: CPD: Less measurement and more development

How can schools translate CPD into genuine improvement for staff? Keith Wright asked leaders to share their views, and discovered an emerging consensus about which approaches work best.

Evaluation article: Challenging 
the most able

Tony Powell looks at how to identify the most able pupils, and the key factors that enable the brightest pupils to achieve.

Evaluation article: Using the teachers’ standards as a framework for CPD and accountability

Tony Powell looks at how the teachers’ standards can be used to evaluate performance and support improvement.

Evaluation article: Managing behaviour outside the classroom

Since January 2014 there has been increased emphasis on the behaviour of pupils. In this article, Jim Donnelly offers advice on managing behaviour around the school.

Evaluation article: Managing pupils’ behaviour in lessons

David Birch offers advice on effective classroom management and argues that effective practice relies on a combination of the consistent application of agreed policy and the development of awareness and…

Evaluation article: Keeping Children Safe Statutory Guidance

This is statutory guidance, which means that schools and colleges (including academies and free schools) must have regard to it. It contains what schools should do and what they must…

Evaluation article: Four steps to school improvement

School improvement is a complex recipe that takes time to perfect. Keith Wright looks at some of the key barriers to school improvement and suggests strategies and systems to overcome…

Evaluation article: Finding a way through the jungle: The essence of leadership

Louise Wingrove gives practical advice on how to become a leader your team will want to follow.

Evaluation article: How to audit your whole-school literacy provision

Given that whole-school literacy is central to raising standards of achievement in schools and that it is a key focus for Ofsted, David Birch outlines some of the actions schools…

Evaluation article: Professional development: the growing case for evidence

Teachers are good at gathering evidence of pupil progress, but many find it difficult to do the same with regard to their own professional development.  Keith Wright looks at the…

Evaluation article: Getting personal with CPD

Less than a fifth of teachers in England’s schools think their continuing profession development (CPD) is any good, according to a recent survey. One of the keys to unlocking the…

Evaluation article: Making performance appraisal an objective and helpful process

Performance appraisal is crucial to school improvement, but many schools are still without a rigorous and transparent way of carrying it out, says Keith Wright. Here, he analyses the challenges…

Evaluation article: Parent View — an update

Jenny Townsend looks at the importance of Parent View in achieving an outstanding rating in inspection, and how comments from parents are used by Ofsted.

Evaluation article: Raising pupil achievement through parental engagement: a practical approach

Jenny Townsend explores how parental engagement can contribute to school improvement and in particular the role this can play in raising pupil achievement levels.

Evaluation article: Effective parental engagement

Ofsted’s Parent View means that parents have a direct influence on the decision to inspect. Jenny Townsend examines why this matters to schools.

Evaluation article: Deconstructing Ofsted: Reflection after inspection

Published: Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Tony Powell looks at how to use the feedback from your inspection in school improvement planning.

Summary

  • Schools should ensure that strengths identified in their inspection report are maintained, and weaknesses are addressed and eradicated.
  • An effective way to improve, especially for schools that want to achieve ‘outstanding’, is to use inspection findings systematically.
  • Schools should use two highlighter pens to go through the report and colour the strengths and weaknesses.
  • It is Ofsted policy to identify areas for improvement even where the school has been graded ‘outstanding’.
  • Action plans to address the key issues should be incorporated into the school improvement plan as distinct priorities.

We have all seen at least one post-mortem drama where the forensic pathologist dissects the body to determine the cause of death and reveal evidence that invariably unmasks the killer. Without pushing the analogy of assailant and victim too far, all schools should carry out a detailed analysis of the inspection process and their Ofsted report.

What we know is that when the school is next inspected, the previous report will be the starting point. Inspectors will want to know whether:

  • strengths have been maintained and developed further
  • weaknesses have been addressed and eradicated.

This is particularly the case where the school has been graded as ‘good’ since, if it receives a section 8 inspection, the presumption is that the school remains ‘good’, i.e. ‘substantially the same’. If standards have risen or fallen substantially since the previous inspection it is very likely that the lead inspector will arrive ready to deem the inspection a section 5 very quickly. An effective way to improve, especially for schools that want to achieve ‘outstanding’, is to use the inspection findings systematically. This is in fact what happens where ‘requires improvement’ or ‘inadequate’ schools are monitored by HMI.

This article provides a step-by-step process for deconstructing Ofsted.

The inspection process

Inspectors are not employed as school improvement experts but as analytical evaluators. What schools can best learn from them is how to do this analytic evaluation in a very short time by cutting through to what is most important. School leaders should combine their experiences to build up a detailed picture of the process by asking the following questions:

  • What did inspectors do?
  • What evidence did they gather?
  • What additional evidence did they request?
  • What questions did they ask you and what was your reply?
  • When did they make the decisive judgements and why?

And, in order to improve next time, they should ask the following:

  • What should we have done differently?
  • What do we need and need to do to improve our skills in managing the inspection process?

Staff should take notes during the inspection and these should be written up to provide a comprehensive description that can be cross-referenced.

The report

Highlight strengths and weaknesses

Using highlighter pens in two different colours, go through the report and highlight the strengths and weaknesses. Try to identify every sentence and comment as either a strength or a weakness. As you do so, keep referring to the Ofsted handbook, particularly the grade descriptors.

This very simple task has a number of important advantages.

  • It will force you to read the report in detail and consider the meaning of every statement.
  • It will familiarise you with the Ofsted handbook.
  • In the vast majority of schools, the strengths outweigh the weaknesses and this will be visually apparent when presenting to staff and governors.

Overall effectiveness

The Ofsted methodology is based on an input‑throughput-output model, which is why starting points and value-added are so important. Except for ‘outstanding’ schools, this should be apparent in the summary of key findings at the start of the report in the statement of strengths and the caveat of areas for improvement preceded by ‘because’.

The logical process for Ofsted is: outcomes for learners are the result of the quality of educational provision, which in turn is the result of the quality of leadership and management. Therefore, leadership and management cannot be effective unless the outcomes for learners are positive. The white paper (Educational Excellence Everywhere) proposes that Ofsted consult on removing the grade on teaching, learning and assessment to make this link even more direct.

Study the Ofsted handbook for section 5 inspections, describing how inspectors arrive at the judgement on overall effectiveness. As you follow the sequence for grading each key area, read the report and the Ofsted grade descriptors to identify why inspectors have awarded each grade.

The key issues

The ‘because’ statements in the summary become the key issues for improvement, and inspectors are required to evaluate progress against these in the next inspection. It is Ofsted policy to identify areas for improvement even where the school has been graded ‘outstanding’.

Except in a very small number of cases, the key issues are always partial weaknesses. The easiest thing for any inspector to identify is inconsistency of practice. Below is a typical key issue from a school graded ‘good’.

Eradicate the remaining inconsistencies in teaching and learning by making sure that all teachers:

  • provide pupils with written feedback that helps them to improve the quality of their work
  • provide opportunities for pupils to act on this advice
  • use questioning effectively to develop pupils’ understanding.

What this actually means is that some teachers are not giving constructive feedback, not providing opportunities for pupils to act on the advice and not using questioning effectively. Discussions with inspectors and the report will add detail. For example, in this school the report identifies some excellent practice and some weaknesses in questioning techniques in mathematics. All subject and aspect leaders should be asked to submit reports on how each of the key issues relates to practice in their area of responsibility, identifying good practice as well as any weaknesses.

Unfortunately, weaknesses will be traced to individual teachers and leaders, and this must be tackled robustly. Senior leaders need to identify whether weaknesses stem from issues such as recalcitrance or inexperience. Reasons should be specified:

  • This teacher does not use questioning techniques effectively because …

Obviously any teacher with weaknesses must be supported to improve, but it is useful to understand from the start the balance needed between challenge and professional development.

Action plan/s

Action plans to address the key issues should be incorporated into the school improvement plan as distinct priorities. Subject and aspect leaders should be required to draw up and implement specific action plans.

Performance management objectives should be linked to key issues. Teachers identified as excellent practitioners in an area should have objectives to provide support, while weaker staff should have objectives to improve linked directly to the Ofsted recommendations. Progress should be monitored and evaluated against improvements in outcomes for learners.

Toolkit

Use the following items in the Toolkit to put the ideas in this article into practice:

About the author

Tony Powell is an experienced Additional Inspector and LA adviser. He writes extensively on education management, but his main work is in supporting schools to develop systems for self-evaluation, school improvement and continuing professional development. Tony can be contacted at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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