This is one of a series of posts on producing an Ofsted Self Evaluation Form. First of all my disclaimer:
“I have no special insight beyond that gleaned from reading the School Inspection Handbook and Subsidiary Guidance. This is not by way of a disclaimer, although maybe it should be, but it is also to invite others to add comments and suggestions to this work and help improve it for others.”
In evaluating Leadership & Management there are a number of different elements that need consideration:
Calling to Account – “So What Have You Done About It?”
This section seems to be a “calling to account” and whilst there are new elements in it, it clearly builds upon: Achievement of Student, Quality of Teaching and Behaviour & Safety. The Subsidiary Guidance and section in the School Inspection Handbook do little to raise a leader’s morale as there seems so many different elements to the judgement that you feel almost certain one will apply to the school.
In short the inspection team are testing how robust the school’s self-review and evaluation processes are and whether having identified an issue the school has done something about it. Impact not effort is the focus. It is important to cross reference this section to the other ones within the SEF and provide the most up to date impact information, as much of the data the inspection team has, prior to visiting the school, is historical.
Governance has, for the past decade or more, been seen as one of the key levers of school improvement. Sat underneath a whole array of structural changes within education in their various forms, around academies, free schools and Interim Executive Boards, is the fundamental belief that for schools to improve good governance is required. It is important to note that even if a school is deemed to “Require Improvement”, for Leadership & Management, the subsidiary guidance states that inspectors include an external review of governance as one of their recommendations.
Different inspection teams seem to take very diverse viewpoints on the role of governors, so here is what the Subsidiary Guidance states:
Three things are important to note here:
“How Do You Know”
This is a very simple question that any inspection team would ask a Governing Body or their representatives. There is always a place to produce a last minute panic/briefing sheet for governors. Whilst this is useful it cannot replace a secure Quality Assurance dimension within governors’ work. It is difficult for all governors to balance their own demanding work schedules with their responsibilities as governors but here are some ways that leadership teams can help governors:
Write your “Report to Governors”, often presented at termly full Governing Body Meetings, in the style of a SEF with key information about the school under the headings: Achievement, Quality of Teaching, Behaviour & Safety and Leadership & Management.
Ensure you have external moderation, possibly from a trained Ofsted Inspector, of your lesson judgements and involve governors in the process. Whilst our school adviser has moderated my lesson judgements for a number of years, then I’ve moderated the judgements of senior leaders, this year we took a slightly different approach. We invited in the school adviser to help moderate the senior leaders’ judgements as a team activity and also invited in a number of governors to quality assure the process. The governors weren’t asked to judge the quality of the lessons, they were asked whether they were satisfied with our process.
Invite governors to quality assure the school’s self-review and evaluation processes. For a number of years, our governors have received the self-review and evaluation reports from departments. This year we will invite them in to observe the key meetings in the process of generating these reports. Again the question of whether they are satisfied with our processes will be crucial in fulfilling their role. They will also have the opportunity to hear first-hand about “strengths & weaknesses”.
Inspectors will expect anonymised evidence of how performance management has been used to differentially reward staff. With the new Pay Policies currently being implemented in schools this is likely to become an area of greater scrutiny. I might as well say it, if results are not up to scratch the expectation will be that staff won’t receive pay increases.
The data for inspectors that you could present would include, for the past three years:
A few notes linking the proportion of staff who have not progressed along the various spines linked to achievement or quality of teaching and learning, as long as individuals are not identified, will help inspectors. This information should not be sent to inspectors but retained on site. If you have completed the #OfstedSEFPlanner – Quality of Teaching you will have noticed there is a section that relates a school’s Quality of Teaching grades with Achievement. Anomalies need to be explained and actions linked to salary determinations and professional development for staff.
Curriculum & Partnerships
Inspectors will look for evidence that the curriculum is meeting the needs of students. Part of this will be found in achievement and progress data but part will also be found in progression rates onto further education or into employment with training against local and possibly national data. Any curriculum partnerships and their impact on students’ achievements need noting.
Where the curriculum does not match with key performance indicators, for example a school’s position on the E-Baccalaureate may be to insist students opt for it or not (Inspectors should note the E-Bacc is not compulsory, Subsidiary Guidance) should be agreed with the Governing Body.
Evidence of Spiritual, Moral, Social & Cultural Development will also be factored into this judgement. This is a thread that runs throughout the inspection. Evidence of this across the school should be collated for inspectors.
Use of Pupil Premium and Year 7 Catch-Up or Primary School Sport Funding
A lot of this information, particularly around progress of students entitled to Pupil Premium funding, will have been captured in the #OfstedSEFPlanner – Achievement of Students. Key additional information should be provided about the progress of students entitled to Pupil Premium funding still at the school and the progress of students who attracted Year 7 Catch-up Funding. Catch-up funding applies to students who did not achieve level 4 in either reading or mathematics at the end of Key Stage 2. These students attract additional funding and the impact of the curriculum, teaching and intervention programmes needs to be assessed via the progress they are making. This can be linked to the overall development of literacy at the school and across the curriculum.
The Primary School Sport Funding should be used to impact on pupil’s lifestyle and physical well-being through increased participation rates and access to various forms of sport and physical activity including competitive sports.
Remember that a lot of this information must be available on the school’s website and inspectors will expect it to be there. The #5MinOfstedPlan has more details about the information schools are required to publish on websites.
Whether Pupils are Safe
A lot of this section simply links back to the #OfstedSEFPlanner – Behaviour & Safety, in particular, the school’s work on addressing bullying particularly cyber-bullying. The views of students and parents through questionnaires and discussions with students during the inspection will help inform the judgement.
Inspectors will also check the Single Central Record and this must be up to date and accurate. The #5MinOfstedPlan identifies key groups inspectors usually target and a process of checking if you want a bit more detail.
Bringing It All Together
The tables below are taken from the School Inspection Handbook and will hopefully help you make your overall judgement for “Leadership & Management”.
In coming to a decision it is helpful to justify to yourself, senior leaders, governors and staff, as objectively as possible:
It is worth noting “demonstrating the capacity to improve” in the Requires Improvement judgement and to note that this will differentiate between serious weakness and special measures in the Inadequate judgement.
You Can Download Versions of the #OfstedSEFPlanner – Leadership & Management Here:
Other posts in the #OfstedSEFPlanner series include:
If you are looking for more assistance on preparing for Ofsted the following might be useful:
Quite some time ago I read a leadership book containing a letter from an army commander to some of his leaders. The content of the letter has always stayed with me, it went something like this:
“Gentlemen, you live in the greatest democracy in the World. One day you may have to fight and even die to defend our democracy but don’t ever believe you work in one.”
The commander was absolutely clear about the type of leaders and followers required in the army. Leaders are required to make a decision, at times quickly and under fire, and troops are expected to carry it out unquestioningly. This is the battle field approach.
It set me thinking about what kind of leaders are required at St. Mary’s and whether I have ever been sufficiently explicit about it. We run a number of internal leadership courses and over a period of two years a number of middle leaders and aspiring middle leaders gave presentations on “What Makes a Good Leader at St. Mary’s”. It was interesting to see both the commonality and diversity of things that came up.
During these two years writing something on the kind of leaders required stayed on my “To Do List”, however, on a train journey back from Reading I wrote the statement below. It was originally just for middle leaders but it soon became obvious that it applied equally to all leaders. I must have been feeling quite poetic when I wrote it (unusual for me as my background is Science) so please excuse the flowery language if it is not to your taste, it is the content that really matters.
WHAT MAKES AN OUTSTANDING LEADER AT ST. MARY’S?
In essence they get everyone into the St. Mary’s boat, all rowing in the same direction!
Outstanding leaders act at the pivotal point of the College’s Catholic Mission ensuring that our vision and goals are implemented – minute by minute, day by day, week in and week out – through working effectively with people in their teams and beyond. They lead others and conduct themselves, at a personal and professional level, within the Catholic ethos of St. Mary’s. Holding those students with greatest needs “closest to their heart” they provide an educational option for the poor and disadvantaged we are called to serve.
Seeing the big picture, they engage with complex whole College issues and understand that our strength as a College lies in our connectedness and being “one body”. They are able to bring a departmental or pastoral perspective to discussions and decision-making, where relevant, whilst seeing well beyond their individual team goals and aspirations. Their words and actions show that they understand the whole is always more important than and takes a precedent over the individual parts. We are interdependent, connected and no team is an island.
Operating both laterally and vertically to support and co-construct the future success of our College, outstanding leaders, alongside other middle and senior leaders, are a power house of innovation and organisation and act as standard bearers within the College. They think creatively, are open to radical ideas and willing to seek mandates to act on them, enjoying solving problems before other people even realise there is one!
Their no excuses approach starts with themselves and extends to holding their teams and individuals accountable for high standards of learning and achievement, enriching relationships, personal development and the well being of all. They have an “abundance mentality” believing that very high academic achievement, outstanding pastoral care and enriching faith and personal development are powerful allies. Like the best parents they appreciate the need to find time for their colleagues, showing a unified public face whilst putting the needs of the students first.
Their personal and professional standards, passion for their subject, service and work ethic and ability to build enriching relationships act as an example to others within their team and beyond. They inspire trust and respect from the staff they work with on a “day to day” basis. Their significant influence is due to a personal and professional credibility with staff who value their input and appreciate that when a difficult situation arises they are the first to take responsibility and assume control of the situation. They manage administration effectively ensuring things run smoothly and the job gets done. Put simply they teach well, achieving better than expected progress with their classes, have excellent attendance, actively engage in promoting student and staff well-being and personal development and support students and staff on their faith journey.
Our outstanding leaders have a curiosity and desire for their own learning, supporting and using innovation as a source of learning in addition to other effective forms of CPD. They encourage others within their team and beyond to do the same and have a profound pedagogical and pastoral understanding based upon models, principles and research as well as their own experience. As powerful people-developers, the induction of staff new to the College, continuous professional development of colleagues and generation of new leaders are all matters of the highest importance and priority. They invest time in coaching, knowing that it is a time investment that will be paid back many times over and appreciated by colleagues and the students who will benefit from it.
Highly emotionally intelligent, literate and resilient our outstanding leaders are able to perform effectively in difficult, pressurised situations taking their team with them through the challenging times. They achieve this by explaining and emphasising the vision and goals; coaching colleagues to help develop their skills; involving staff in decision making; leading by example; putting an arm around someone’s shoulder or, on occasion, doing some straight talking. They are adept at choosing the right leadership style for the context they find themselves in, often using a combination of these approaches as appropriate. At difficult times they act as a “reservoir of hope and optimism”, maintaining high morale, positive relationships and a sense of togetherness in the team and more widely in the College as a whole. They keep a focus on the goals to be achieved and ensuring a sense of well proportioned perspective by individuals.
Being an outstanding leader at St. Mary’s is a challenging role.
Let’s not pretend otherwise!
The statement contains a number of key elements that I have reinforced below.
Leaders get everyone into the St. Mary’s boat in pursuit of the College’s stated Mission and Vision. They realises and ensures everyone in the team understands that the whole is always more important than and takes precedence over the needs of the individual department. We are interdependent, connected and no team is an island.
Leaders are persistent and insistent that policies and procedures are consistently, properly and fully implemented. Within the authority given they lead and guide the staff in the team and further distributes leadership within it. They are powerful people developers.
Leaders hold the team to account for high standards of learning and achievement, enriching relationships, personal development and the well being of all. They have an “abundance mentality” believing that very high academic achievement, outstanding pastoral care and enriching faith and personal development are powerful allies.
Capacity Building – People Developers
Leaders maximise and fully engage with the resources available – people, technology, learning spaces, capitation – to build the capacity within their team that enables it to contribute to the delivery of the College’s stated Mission and Vision.
The “What Makes an Outstanding Leader at St. Mary’s” statement is now part of every leader’s job description and helps provide clarity about what is expected of them. It is written from the perspective of a Catholic School (I think all elements are transferable but some of the language may change), deliberately sets the bar very high and has been useful in occasional conversation with leaders who have gone “off piste” and started doing their own thing. The key is not whether you agree or disagree with the statement about outstanding leadership at St. Mary’s, it is whether you have a description for an outstanding leader in your own institution. If we want “great leaders” in our schools we must be absolutely explicit about what “great” means.
If you have enjoyed this blog post, here is a link to one on “What Should We Look for in Senior Leaders” that converts the statement above (or at least it should) into a reference request that we use to gather information on applicants from their referees.