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When the going gets tough (pt:1)…

When the going gets tough (pt:1)…

This post (1 of 3) looks at school responses to Ofsted judgments, as I’ve worked in many schools that have had to respond to identified developmental areas. With that in mind this post takes into account that schools have already conducted an SEF and focuses on SIPs and/or additional action plans which result from an inspection. It’s not the definitive article, but my own suggested methodology.

I’ve worked in schools that have been judged ‘Good’, ‘Good and very almost Outstanding’, ‘Requires Improvement’ and my advice has been sought by schools deemed to be ‘inadequate’.

Part one: It’s like recovering after a hard workout…



Those of us out there who work out on a regular basis might understand my mindset here…you get knocked back, the weight is too heavy or your energy is too low one day, but with experience and perseverance you know you’ll have better days and in the long term you’ll see the improvement you want.

You need the gym-goers mindset when you’re making improvements to a school!

My school “workout for recovery” rules;

  • Carry out an honest ‘fit test’ at the start (or accept the one that ‘s been done for you!)
  • Share it with others and enlist their support
  • Set a goal to achieve
  • Have a clear plan with ‘progress measure’ points
  • Be prepared to trying something new (preferably after carrying out some research)
  • Keep going, keep the goal in sight and keep yourself healthy as you work towards achieving it!

c648c0f2-1cd3-44fe-9478-768412c9f335Come out with fighting spirit…

Start by being honest!

When you get what feels like a slap in the face from a higher power it could knock you back.

But you have to rise above that and recognise you’ve been given areas to improve upon.

Take the hit like a champ…

Take the criticism and be honest. You might not agree it’s as bad as it’s perceived, but rarely can you say that any area of a school could not be improved in some way.

Fit Test time…

Carry out your own honest ‘fit test’ on the specific areas that have been identified as in need of improvement. Draw upon the knowledge of as many people as possible, from SLT to Middle Leaders, Class teachers and student support staff!

Be brave and allow anonymous feedback. School improvement is too important to set yourself up to fail at the start by only getting back responses and data that colleagues think you want to receive.

Share the results of your ‘fit test’ with absolutely everyone in your school! Don’t keep it a secret amongst a select group of people.

An entire school feels the pressure of an external inspection, and the entire school feels the effect of any judgement made. So involve everyone in any process of recovery from the very next day after any judgement has been made. You need everyones support to help you achieve your goals! From the smallest support to the big requests you might make of people later down the line.

Set/Share your goals

What are your goals?You’ve bounced back from the first blow. You’ve explained to everyone what’s happened and the first part of your recovery (your fit test). Now you need to share the goals.

Any gym-goer knows change doesn’t happen over night; it takes patience, perseverance, determination and often some collaboration!

Although certain pressures on a school make you feel like all you have to do to bounce back from any knock is get your next set of results up, that is not that case.

What is truly needed is a sustainable, ongoing positive development towards a set of targets and a goal.

Setting the goals might seem simple enough; ask the question ‘what school do we want (or indeed need) to be?

Goal-Setting-TipsYour targets are best described as the measuring points along the journey towards that goal!

In the gym it’s ‘when I can lift X weight’ or ‘when I can fit back into last Summer’s shorts!’.

In schools ‘achieving A*-C in X,Y and Z’ should not be the goal! They should be one of several targets to strive towards as indicators that you are on the right route towards your true goal!

Next: Action and progress…coming soon.

This post covered one way of responding to an inspection outcome. It’s not the definitive article, but if you were struggling to get started, this can be your starter for 10!

The next post in this mini-series looks at the targets you set, how you measure them and maintain staff wellbeing throughout the process.

I’d appreciate your feedback on this post…

1 Comment »

  1. I have to say I like that this sets out a good/clear and workable approach to a difficult situation in schools!

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