The sessions are led by Chris Nye and Mary Massey


  • Explore and discuss the key issues around improvement together
  • Look at Ofsted’s evidence about schools that improve – and those that don’t – and why
  • Apply learning to your own context to inform your planning

What are the most obvious areas in your school that are stopping you being judged good.  Put in order from Most (at the top) to Least (at the bottom) important.

What do we know about schools that improve?

  • Context
  • Quality of leadership
  • Managing teaching and performance of staff
  • Governance

January to August 2012 under previous framework.  Primary schools have 47% improvement to Good or better, in secondary it is 41%.  This is before additional support provided by Ofsted.  Michael Wilshere worried about the 38% of Primary and 40% of Secondary which didn’t shift, and the 15% of Primary and 19% of Secondary which went into Special Measures.

It is easier to shift a school in a least deprived area than in a more deprived area – focussed on attainment rather than progress.  Since then Pupil Premium funding has come in.


Leadership of a determined and resolute headteacher – irritating leadership which says failure is not an option.  Sharing a clear vision with high expectations of staff and pupils.  Establishing effective SLT – this may require changes in personnel; and reinvigorate the governing body – they must be able to play a strategic role.  This then leads to tools for success ensuring staff effectiveness by holding to account and ensuring ability to improve.  Where is the school in the “model”.

One of the first steps is to raise expectations of pupils and teachers:

  • In the majority of schools the headteacher introduced pupil progress meetings to hold staff to account for progress – annually is not nearly enough – three times a year is better – but if you are a vulnerable school it should be six times a year.
  • In the majority of schools written guidelines for teaching and learning were produced.  These were described as ‘non-negotiable’ and set the standard for good teaching.  These are things that are important across the board to help all teachers, e.g. NQTs, creating a learned behaviour in the school.
  • In three quarters of the schools headteachers described themselves as visible in order to set an example and model the behavior that they wanted staff to adopt – e.g. modelling speaking and listening, handwriting.
  • In several schools a non-negotiable behaviour policy for pupils was established.
  • In all schools staff were subject to challenging conversations and in just over half of them it resulted in teachers leaving the school – you go into teaching as someone who cares about people – but there will be some people who are barriers to your school getting to good – you can’t duck this, you must deal with it, to ensure every child gets a good education – they only get one stab at it.
  • In two thirds of the schools the headteacher quickly strengthened the SLT.

Teaching and Performance

There is no one way to teach, no formula.  But children do need to know success criteria, they need to know what it would look like if they were to succeed.  The whole point of planning is planning for every child, and you can’t do that without assessment data.  The problem is teachers not using the assessment data to plan for all children, including SEN, with short-term targets that the pupils, parents, LSAs and others all know.  Assessment for Learning is about the whole thing.

Progress and task completion are not the same thing – it is not about task completion but progress – what do you know now that you did not know at the beginning, what skills have you learnt (even though lesson is normally content based).

Too often teachers ask if pupils understand, teacher doesn’t know whether or not pupils understand, pupils won’t admit in front of 30 of their friends that they don’t understand or haven’t made progress.

Teaching is not about performance it is about learning and inspiration.  Once received a note “To the Inspector”, opened it up and it said “Are you as bored as I am”?  Sometimes there is too much talking, and too many instructions.  When in silence pupils get three times as much done.

Getting pencil grip right, especially for left handers, is critical.  Boys hates writing as their motor skills are not good enough – but sometimes that is due to poor grip.  In Year 7 you can often spot children’s primary schools by looking at their handwriting.  Equally letter formation is often not good enough – it needs to be corrected.

Many pupils in Year 6 gain a secure Level 4, by Easter of Year 7 they have a Level 3 in extended writing in non-core subjects but in English have a Level 5 – that is because teachers aren’t correcting this.  Non-English teachers often don’t have the vocabulary to verbalise appropriately to pupils.

The critical thing for a good teacher is to think about learning, not teaching.  They need to move away from the scaffolding to do this.  Thorough planning does not always work – focus on activities, and doesn’t always support the actual learning by pupils.

Critical issue is progress – good progress in all groups is the crucial element.  Ofsted doesn’t require a particular approach to teaching – ticking boxes doesn’t have to be done.  Achievement isn’t just end of Key Stage data, you may have some pretty grim data, 2012 could be bad, 2013 might be better it might not.  The judgement on achievement is based on past data, current school’s data and progress in lessons.  You must also demonstrate that previous predictions were accurate – that you knew those pupils weren’t doing well, helping to secure data on current lower down the school pupils.

The questions that Inspectors ask are based on the historical data they can read, so answer those reasonable questions, answer the why and show how issues are dealt with through planning and that they are making a difference.  Do present data in 3-4 sides of A4 with impact and analyzed, already know the core data already so want the analysis.

Approaches used for raising performance in schools that have made the journey to good:

  • Headteachers in all schools perceived performance management as necessary to build the capacity for consistent and sustained school improvement – link to teachers standards.
  • Coaching and mentoring procedures were established in all schools visited.  In half the school part of a mentor’s performance management was to be responsible for the improvement in performance of their mentees.
  • In the majority of schools programmes of peer working were established that were judged to be highly effective.
  • In all schools professional development programmes were tailored to the ability of staff – and were helping to motivate them.
  • In some schools staff meetings had been remodelled to focus on teaching and learning.
  • In most schools recruitment and induction were described as crucial.  In half only good or outstanding candidates were considered.
  • In half the schools staff were provided with opportunity to take external qualifications.
  • In most schools the headteacher had reinforced that it was the teacher who was responsible for their own performance management.

Effective headteachers teach as you want your teachers to teach.  Do not neglect the skill of your own teaching due to operational busyness.  Model that good teaching and teach other people how to do it.  It is no good just monitoring, you have to coach people.  It is no good just doing the what and the why – you need to show the how as well.

Since September 2012 the Ofsted framework has placed much greater emphasis on the performance management of staff:

  • Just over half the “improving” schools said they used performance management to manage staff departure.  Most but not all, used it to manage performance improvements.
  • How well does your improvement plan link with plans for staff development?  Are your CPD targets on your plan?
  • Is there a clear relationship between promotion and accountability?
  • Have you clearly indicated the contribution to be made by teaching assistants and other staff?  Are they accountable?  Are the SEN children busy, and delighted at completing the task – it should be what have they learnt?

Leadership: Governance

Governance is pure altruism and commitment these days, with a very different framework from before.  Common issues identified in inspection reports included:

  • Not ambitious about expectations
  • Lack of a critical friend approach – often not enough challenge but rather trying to be good friends – instead the need to be irritating leaders and not accepting things being brushed under the carpet.
  • Over reliance on information from the headteacher, e.g. do subject leaders present to Governing Bodies.
  • Lack of systematic visits to school – this is very tough given people are often working full-time – it needs balance.  Not monitoring lessons, it is the Governors role to make sure systems are in place to monitor learning and teaching.
  • Lack of engagement with school development planning – it is the strategic side of governance and need to be involved in the development and know whether or not it has the feel of something that is active.  Success criteria shouldn’t be task completed – need to have evaluation tools to show what has worked and why has it or has it not worked.  Inspectors will also expect you to know your SEF inside out.
  • Limited role in monitoring and none of it “independent”.  As a tip write challenging questions from GB in minutes in red so it stands out and is easily seen – but can also be easily followed up.
  • One of the most useful activities is a learning walk with the subject co-ordinator, pointing out key features in teaching of subject through the displays and lessons.
  • Limited understanding of data and school quality – RAISEonline is a nightmare – it is a question of making sure you have the training from your LEA.  Talking it through with your headteacher, understanding which bits are important, it now marks key Governor pages with a G.  RAISEOnline is produced by Ofsted and DfE, Family Fischer Trust now doesn’t produce data across all LEAs, as RAISEOnline has improved by HMI it is now much closer to providing all the data from Family Fischer Trust.

Common features of effective governance noted in

  • Focus: sharp focus, raise achievement, improve teaching, robustly focussed, proactive, raised expectations, determined, active
  • Positive impact: drive, strive, ambitious vision, more strategic, provide clear direction, rigorously drives improvement, steer through change, increasingly effective.
  • Strong team: work together, communicated, corporate, supports, unity

Let’s consider why governance has not had sufficient impact for your school:

  • Challenging questions are lacking
  • Monitoring and visits not done regularly and with purpose
  • Reviewing and analysing data independently.

On a scale of 1 to 4 assess the capacity to manage change:

  • SLT
  • Governing Body
  • Middle Managers
  • Teaching Staff
  • Other staff
  • Pupils

Pupil Premium

Guidance is if you have a school that was previously outstanding, if your pupils who are Pupil Premium are not closing the gap then you cannot be outstanding.  London has seen an incredible closing of the gap between FSM and other pupils.  The South East has the widest gap of anywhere in the UK.  In LEA terms it goes from West Berkshire, Isle of Wight, Hampshire up to Reading and Slough is the best – under performance of FSM eligible pupils compared to non FSM pupils at GCSE in 2012 by LA!  By the age of 5 these children were already behind by 18 months, wider at KS1, and again at KS2, and by KS4 life chances are hugely less.

Be as creative as you like about that money.  The one critical report is “Unseen Children Access and Achievement” on what is the problem in this area.  Don’t neglect Pupil Premium children who do we well the access issue is inspiration – this is what parents can’t or won’t give.

The more children on FSM in a school the smaller the gap in achievement.

Married to the amazing Sarah and raising Jakey, Daniel, Amelia, Josh & Jonah in our blended family. Passionate for Jesus, social work & sport.

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