Free article: Improving teacher recruitment and retention: part 1 Free article: Get ready to win strategic school improvement funding Reputation management for schools Experience shared: Effective mentoring Tackling bullying in schools - part one Aggression at work: Managing yourself and others Managing difficult conversations The art of influence: Creating the best outcome Change management and conflict Managing anxiety at work Interpreting data for 2017 performance Free article: Know your strengths Free article: Developing an ethos of high expectation Achieving an ‘Outstanding’ Grade: Focused on Excellence Free article: HR and the successful school: A case study Free article: Leading the way to outstanding learner progress Free article: Attainment and progress: The Rochford Review Free article: How to create a leadership team that drives school improvement Free article: Prioritising the budget for school improvement Free article: Transforming a failing school Free article: Evaluating alternative and specially resourced provision Free article: Taking a school-wide approach to mental health and wellbeing Free article: The latest developments in education - January 2016 Free article: Managing uncertainty Free article: Pupil voice as an evaluation technique Free article: The latest developments in education - September 2016 Free article: Deconstructing Ofsted: Reflection after inspection Free article: MAT expansion: Don’t let school improvement become a casualty Free article: Ten rules for outstanding leaders Free article: The governing body as a critical friend Free article: Developing an ethos of high expectations Free article: The exam post-mortem Free article: Safeguarding: Everyone’s responsibility Free article: How do inspectors make the judgement about overall effectiveness? The Ofsted model Free article: Effective leadership builds effective teams Free article: Baseline assessment and SEND Free article: Deconstructing the link between SEND and poverty Free article: Making performance management count in school improvement Free article: Joining or setting up a multi-academy trust Free article: Using pupil voice to support school evaluation Free article: What are the signs of a good school improvement service adviser? Free article: Headteachers’ appraisal Free article: Making CPD work harder Free article: Interpreting the inspection dashboard Free article: The government's Prevent guidance Free article: Improving provision for the most able Free article: Personal development, behaviour and welfare Free article: Is there a mental health crisis in our schools? Free article: Evaluating the effectiveness of assessment Free article: Actively promoting fundamental British values Free article: Raising boys’ achievement Free article: National standards of excellence for headteachers Free article: Monitoring and coaching through lesson observation Free article: CPD: Less measurement and more development Free article: Challenging 
the most able Free article: Using the teachers’ standards as a framework for CPD and accountability Free article: Managing behaviour outside the classroom Free article: Managing pupils’ behaviour in lessons Free article: Keeping Children Safe Statutory Guidance Free article: Four steps to school improvement Free article: Finding a way through the jungle: The essence of leadership Free article: How to audit your whole-school literacy provision Free article: Professional development: the growing case for evidence Free article: Getting personal  with CPD Free article: Making performance appraisal an objective and helpful process Free article: Parent View — an update Free article: Raising pupil achievement through parental engagement: a practical approach Free article: Effective parental engagement

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Free article: Get ready to win strategic school improvement funding

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Bullying is defined as: ‘Behaviour by an individual or group, usually repeated over time, that intentionally hurts another individual or group either physically or emotionally’. This article looks at the…

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Conflict management is a vital skill for managers. Schools have clear policies on managing aggression in the classroom and playground. In this article Louise Wingrove looks at dealing with it…

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Some conversations are always going to be uncomfortable. In this article, Louise Wingrove looks at managing difficult subjects with care and confidence.

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Louise Wingrove looks at how being aware of your impact on others can help everybody get what they need.

Change management and conflict

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Free article: Know your strengths

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Free article: Developing an ethos of high expectation

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

Free 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.

Free article: Leading the way to outstanding learner progress

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

Free article: Attainment and progress: The Rochford Review

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

Free 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…

Free article: Prioritising the budget for school improvement

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Free 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.

Free 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.

Free 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…

Free article: The latest developments in education - January 2016

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Free 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…

Free article: Pupil voice as an evaluation technique

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

Free article: The latest developments in education - September 2016

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Free article: Deconstructing Ofsted: Reflection after inspection

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

Free 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.

Free 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.

Free 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’.

Free 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.

Free article: The exam post-mortem

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

Free article: Safeguarding: Everyone’s responsibility

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

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Free article: Interpreting the inspection dashboard

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Free article: The government's Prevent guidance

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Free article: Evaluating the effectiveness of assessment

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Free article: Actively promoting fundamental British values

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Free article: Challenging 
the most able

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

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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..

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