A challenging start

We are now a month into the most challenging start to an academic year that most of us can ever remember and, without a doubt, teachers and school leaders have shown phenomenal resilience and determination in their response. We must not underestimate the scope of the demands that have been placed on them. Most schools have been open in some form since February half term, albeit to small numbers of pupils. Many teachers have had to learn a whole new approach to the way they deliver the curriculum through online learning. Senior leaders are spending significant chunks of the school day on operational tasks such as supervising staggered breaks and lunchtimes, keeping an eye out for the next ‘bubble’ that will have to be sent home and wondering whether they can keep the school open if more staff are diagnosed with Covid-19 or told to self-isolate.

Focussing on curriculum

This leaves little time for reflection and strategic planning. Yet, for many schools, Ofsted continues to loom on the horizon whether in the form of ‘non-judgemental’ fact finding visits in the autumn term, or the planned full return to inspection based on the EIF from January 2021. We at B11 have been clear that we welcome the new inspection framework. We believe that returning the focus to the curriculum as being at the heart of what schools do is the correct course of action. However, for many schools which have been led down the path of attainment and results in recent years, this is no mean feat. Some primary schools in particular, where the people leading on curriculum are not always subject specialists, find the scale of the task quite daunting. The current pandemic and the impact of extended lockdown on pupils’ learning simply adds to the challenge.

Facing criticism

Yet Ofsted continues to be critical of school improvement providers such as B11, believing that our focus is on nothing more than ‘preparing’ schools for inspection. This is a long way from the truth. B11 does not do ‘mocksteds’. Anyone who really understands the complexity of schools  and the challenge of driving change in a large organisation cannot really believe that, on the basis of a short visit, consultants can ‘teach’ schools to ‘pass’ an inspection, or that school improvement is as simple as ticking boxes. Our consultants have wide-ranging experience in education roles and are passionate about working alongside school leaders and teachers to provide CPD, develop their skills, build their capacity, and so improve life chances for children. It is true that, for some schools, those of our consultants who have experience of inspection can increase leaders’ understanding of how to benchmark the work of their school against a national framework and how to use that framework to plan and measure their improvement. Should we apologise for that? Many good and outstanding schools have members of their senior leadership teams who are Ofsted inspectors. It would be naive to assume that they do not use their understanding to support their colleagues: a significant advantage that is denied to schools who are judged as requires improvement or inadequate.

Here to stay

So, as long as leaders want support, and we receive feedback on the impact of our work which is overwhelmingly positive, B11 will continue to offer school improvement services on a wide range of areas. To find out more, visit our services page. Alternatively, request your FREE 20-minute no obligation phone consultation with our Principal Consultant here:





Please share this post