All change or very much the same?

Governance questions for the new Ofsted framework.

With the changes to Ofsted inspections from September 2015 what governing bodies and trust boards have to discuss with head teachers will also change.

If your school is already “Good” or “Outstanding” then how your school will be assessed has changed significantly. An HMI (yes just one for primaries and two for secondaries) will start with the assumption your school is still good. They will check data, safeguarding and unless they find evidence to the contrary they will affirm that school is still good.

The only fly in the ointment is if they feel school may be outstanding or RI. That triggers a full section 5 inspection.

Is that an incentive?

The HMCI Sir Michael Wilshaw has conveniently published what HMI will ask head teachers.

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/letter-to-schools-outlining-changes-to-education-inspection-from-september-2015

This blog is based on page two of the letter.

HMI may ask how well leaders:

  • have built, or are developing, a school culture that is calm, orderly and aspirational so that teachers can teach and pupils can learn
  • have a grip on the school and fully understand its strengths and weaknesses
  • know how different groups of pupils currently at the school are achieving across a range of subjects
  • have removed any excuses for underachievement and are prepared to go the extra mile to compensate for family background
  • know the quality of teaching and are prepared to confront complacency wherever they find it
  • have communicated their strategy for raising standards to parents, governors and key stakeholders
  • ensure that pupils have access to good quality materials, for example textbooks, readers and library books that they can use in classrooms and at

home.

These questions equally apply to any school type and build on the concept that a safe well taught child should learn well.

The focus is shifting to the professional judgement of head teachers, ensuring they know their students and staff. That they know what a good teacher looks like and they recognise underachievement.

Personally when I hear the parade of excuses for underachievement it makes me a tad agitated.

I was brought up in great but disadvantaged communities and I know many successful professionals who were. The circumstances a child goes to school in are not their responsibility or their fault. Schools should work to provide the safe environment conducive to allowing children to learn.

Being a governor of a primary school it particularly irks me when secondaries take the same children with the same parents in the same community and results crash from 11 to 16. I still don’t feel secondaries should get more funding for the same child and that their floor targets are 50% of primaries.

Rant over……

The questions asked of the head teacher apply the same to governors. Getting to grips with these four questions are at the heart of what we already do. Tweaked slightly they could be the vision of any school:

  • understand strengths and weaknesses of school and be addressing these
  • know how different groups of pupils currently at the school are achieving across a range of subjects and maximise student opportunity
  • have removed any excuses for underachievement and are prepared to go the extra mile to compensate for family background
  • know the quality of senior leadership and are prepared to confront complacency wherever they find it

Seems like the core purpose of governance will always be the same.

Is that a bad thing?

Not at all.

Children matter first and last.

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3 thoughts on “All change or very much the same?

  1. Whilst we can all make efforts to remove “any EXCUSES for underachievement”, we can’t all be responsible for the REASONS for underachievement, wouldn’t you say?

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