What’s new

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.

Achieving an ‘Outstanding’ Grade: Focused on Excellence

Published: Sunday, 09 July 2017

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

 Summary

  • The best starting point is to review the mission statement and the school’s values, because these drive the strategic direction. 
  • Consistency is essential and ideals, values and ambitions can only be implemented consistently through agreed policies and procedures.
  • Schools should prepare for inspection by integrating the Ofsted methodology into their own procedures.
  • Formulate and follow an action plan to achieve ‘outstanding’.

I have worked with many newly appointed headteachers who, over time and by dint of sheer hard work, have ‘transformed’ their schools. If ‘transform’ implies rapid, then this is a viewpoint which fails to capture the day-by-day reality of these schools. The obvious way to be recognised as an outstanding school is by giving your pupils an outstanding education so that they achieve outstanding outcomes. There are no magic wands and excellent headteachers understand this. Just work hard for years and years doing the right things and you will get there. However, note the use of inverted commas in the title. These indicate that ‘outstanding’ here has a special meaning. This article aims to support schools to achieve the accolade of ‘outstanding’ as defined by Ofsted.

There is still no magic wand nor even a magic formula. The step-by-step approach described here cannot be followed strictly in a living school where many things need to be done at the same time. It is a question of prioritising effort and making sure a stage is embedded before moving to the next. The sequence I have tried to capture here is what an outstanding headteacher might articulate years afterwards.

Get the leadership right first

The best starting point is to review the mission statement and the school’s values, because these drive the strategic direction. Bring together as many stakeholders as possible and devote quality time to this. Have at least one full day and organise tasks and teams to maximise involvement, especially of the recalcitrant. This collegiate exercise and the mission statement should capture the moral high ground, which justifies future action.

Look at least ten years into the future and take a very wide view of educational outcomes. We need only list spiritual, moral, social, cultural, physical and emotional development, promoting fundamental British values, citizenship and community cohesion, and preparation for the world of work to realise how important the formative school years are. These wide ambitions must be retained because they are every pupil’s entitlement. However, each school’s mission is to achieve them within the context of their community and distinctive nature.

Headteachers can only lead properly if they are sincere, so don’t be satisfied with a snappy phrase such as ‘focused on excellence’. This will only become a reality when it is part of the conversation of the school, and that entails you repeating it constantly. For this reason, don’t be reluctant to lead in the formulation of the mission statement.

Aim for a hard-working staff with high morale. They know they work harder than other schools but they know they are good and confident in their ability as a team.

Create the management structure

Consistency is essential and ideals, values and ambitions can only be implemented consistently through agreed policies and procedures. Policies are not difficult to draw up and too much detail is often counter-productive. I remember a Year 11 boy in my form coming to school with his head inexpertly shaved and bizarrely patchy blue. Surprisingly, this did not contravene our uniform policy. Far better to have a set of principles derived from the mission statement and linked to roles and responsibilities. How does shaving your head and painting it blue help our school to focus on excellence?

Consistency also demands common timetables, templates and proformas. In the toolkit section, you will find a template for plotting a timetable for self-evaluation, improvement planning and performance management. Use this to identify when these important tasks need to be carried out. If you do not, you will react to events and be blown off the improvement course.

Adopt the Ofsted methodology

The Ofsted methodology for inspection was drawn up by Her Majesty’s Inspectors based on years of experience and expertise. The creation of Ofsted brought thousands of part-time inspectors into the system and the possibility of chaos in the implementation of universal inspection. This is why the handbooks and methodology are so detailed. Fortunately, the methodology works for school self-evaluation also.

Schools should prepare for inspection by integrating the Ofsted methodology into their own procedures. Use the grade descriptors to evaluate the quality of all aspects of work and amend all the Ofsted templates, such as evidence forms, for use in the school.

Match the school’s leadership and management structure, including those for governance, against the key areas in the inspection handbooks. Over time, school governors and managers will lead on aspects of work such as personal development and behaviour so that when inspection comes they know exactly what inspectors are looking for and present their evaluations backed up by the same evidence inspectors will gather.

The achieving outstanding action plan

  • Use the previous inspection report as a baseline, because inspectors will accept this as accurate.
  • Analyse and agree judgements from across the report, not just the key issues, and amplify and interpret these if necessary.
  • Identify the causal links between strengths and weaknesses and outcomes for pupils. Categorise causal links into elements of educational provision:
  1. Care, guidance and support
  2. Curriculum
  3. Teaching and learning.
  • Consider any ambiguous areas and ask yourself how the next inspector will interpret these. What will you need to explain?
  • Allocate lead responsibility for key areas and allocate these as performance management objectives.
  • Compare judgements against grade descriptors for ‘outstanding’ and identify improvements needed.
  • Revise the SES (dated for reference) as the baseline for all future development.
  • Identify areas for improvement as priorities for the school improvement plan.
  • Set targets for improvements in outcomes for pupils – academic and personal development and well-being.
  • Devise action plans to achieve targets and meet descriptors for ‘outstanding’. Categorise actions into elements of educational provision:
  1. Care, guidance and support
  2. Curriculum
  3. Teaching and learning.
  • Draw up a timetable for evaluating all aspects of the school’s work before the next inspection.
  • Implement action plans.
  • Monitor and amend plans if necessary.
  • Evaluate progress against the self-evaluation timetable.
  • Systematically revise each section of the SES until ‘outstanding’ is achieved.
  • Organise the evidence base into files.
  • Prepare for interviews.

Toolkit

Use the following item in the Toolkit to put the ideas in this article into action:

 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..

Most frequently read