In light of Ofsted’s recently released management information (for inspections up to 31 January 2019), which revealed that 89% of outstanding schools have been downgraded this year, B11’s Principal Consultant Christine Schofield runs through her top school improvement questions outstanding schools should be asking to avoid following suit.


1. Do all staff and governors understand the evaluation schedule and its terminology, and are they confident to use it accurately to talk about the work of the school?


2. Have leaders at all levels kept up to date with the changing educational landscape and expectations since the previous inspection, and communicated it to all staff?


3. Do middle leaders clearly understand their role in driving improvement forwards in their areas of responsibility? Producing a list that outlines the impact they have and would like to get across to inspectors in a brief meeting is a great start.


4. Can everyone in the school community articulate what is unique and special about the school, and is there a common sense of purpose and shared vision? Evidence that leaders take the views of pupils, staff and parents into account when setting the sense of direction for the school is invaluable.


5. Are there systems for monitoring the school’s work coherently: do they go beyond ticking boxes and enable leaders to have a deep-rooted knowledge of the school’s strengths and areas for development?


6. Are all action plans clear about what success will look like and do they have milestones to show what progress will have been made at key points, so that leaders always know the impact of their work?


7. Are the processes for work scrutiny rigorous and do leaders use it to check on all aspects of the school’s work, including leadership, curriculum and achievement, as well as just teaching and feedback?


8. Is the curriculum based on a real understanding of your pupils’ and community’s needs and can senior leaders clearly explain how this has led them to make their choices about curriculum models? Think about whether subject leaders can use their knowledge of their pupils to explain why they deliver the curriculum in the way that they do. Consider whether it’s clear that the delivery enables pupils to build up a secure bank of knowledge through which to apply their skills and demonstrate their understanding. Finally, think about whether leaders demonstrate how well their curriculum is enabling pupils to learn.


9. Does the school’s professional development programme meet the needs of staff of all skill levels and at all stages of their career? Consider whether it is based on research, encourages all staff to reflect on what they are doing and why, and whether there is a sense of excitement about teaching.


10. Is the promotion of equalities at the heart of the school’s work and is this clearly reflected in the provision and outcomes, both pastoral and academic, for all groups of pupils?


11. Do leaders know the impact of their work, including seeking independent sources of external monitoring?


To discuss these questions in more depth and find out how our school improvement support can help your school retain an excellent Ofsted rating, get in touch today.



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