Outstanding #ReflectionQs by @TeacherToolkit

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Ross Morrison McGill founded @TeacherToolkit in 2010, and today, he is one of the 'most followed educators'on social media in the world. In 2015, he was nominated as one of the '500 Most Influential People in Britain' by The Sunday Times as a result of...
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Reflection: which of the Ofsted criteria do you need to focus on?

  • Subject knowledge
  • Teaching?
  • Assessment?
  • Behaviour and attitudes to learning?
  • Homework?
  • and Measuring progress?


As I was preparing for my @PiXLClub presentation last night, I was digging through all my countless documents and re-discovered a few hidden gems. This prompted me to tweet a photo of the ‘Outstanding’ Ofsted criteria and a series of reflective questions we have posed to our Good to Outstanding group of teachers. You can click on the image to see the tweet/photo in detail.

Reflection Questions
Reflection Questions



As part of our own internally led CPD programmes, we have asked our Good to Outstanding group of teachers to work in trios; to try to identify their current strengths and prioritise areas to improve on over the coming half-term.

We have used the questions below to as a guide for reflection. We do not expect all teachers to be able to address or attempt every single area and the questions, but we do expect our expert teachers to ask questions too; to question other teachers to challenge themselves; and ask that by looking at the ‘next steps’ part of this activity, individuals can use the ‘Solution-focused questioning’ at the bottom of this page to help formulate their own action plan.

Experts must ask questions too... Photo Credit: HikingArtist.com via Compfight cc
Experts must ask questions too…
Photo Credit: HikingArtist.com via Compfight



Before the reader continues, NONE of these questions are to be asked for a 20-minute observation. These questions should ONLY be used for teacher-reflection. If the questions are to be used for observations, then the teacher/observer should consider them as a series of questions to pose with a series of lessons ‘over time’.

Subject knowledge and use of assessment:

  1. Is understanding checked systematically and effectively in order to anticipate interventions?
  2. Is your marking consistently high quality and constructive ensuring that students make rapid gains?
  3. Do you ask key questions in order to assess understanding and deepen learning?
  4. Do students get thinking time and oral rehearsal?
  5. Is literacy assessed regularly and do students respond/ correct their mistakes?
  6. Are there effective alternatives to hands-up?
  7. Is inquisitiveness encouraged?


  1. Do the students work harder than you?
  2. Can students explain how what they are doing links to what they are expected to learn?
  3. Can they articulate what they should be able to do by the end of the lesson?
  4. Can they show how it builds on prior learning?
  5. Do they make connections between subjects?
  6. Are your students inspired?
  7. Do you consistently have high expectations for all students?
  8. Is every opportunity taken to develop SMSC?
  9. Is intervention sharply focused and matched to need?
  10. Are teaching assistants involved in planning?
  11. Do you take every opportunity to develop literacy and numeracy?
  12. Are there a variety of often imaginative activities?
  13. Do you create clever transitions between tasks?


  1. Do you build resilience, confidence and engagement?
  2. Do you build independence of thought and behaviour?
  3. Are your objectives rigorous? Do they challenge students?
  4. Do students consistently show high levels of engagement?
  5. Do you plan for the needs to different groups of learners in your class?
  6. Are they making exceptionally high rates of progress over time?
  7. Can you demonstrate progress of all learners in your lesson?


  1. Do you set appropriate, regular feedback that makes a significant contribution to students’ learning?
  2. Do you set differentiated homework?
  3. Do students enjoy homework?

Attitudes to learning:

  1. Do students demonstrate high levels of engagement, courtesy, collaboration and cooperation?
  2. Is praise genuine and purposeful?
  3. Is the first hint of off-task behaviour dealt with?
  4. Are students given independence and responsibility?
  5. Is their evidence of SMSC?
  6. Does learning proceed without interruption?
  7. Is your approach to behaviour management consistent and systematic?

 Next steps:

Offer support and ask for help...  Photo Credit: Biscarotte via Compfight cc
Offer support and ask for help…
Photo Credit: Biscarotte via Compfight

Once our teachers have identified their current strengths and development areas, we ask them to use the solution focused questioning below, to reflect on their development areas in more detail.

  • Teacher name:
  • Which area(s) of my practice are currently outstanding or close to outstanding?
  • Area(s) of my practice I will prioritise for the coming half-term.
  • Key stage focus (optional):

We collect this information and share the details within the group. This enables us to offer support and ask for help with ideas more effectively.

Solution focused questioning:

  1. Step 1: share your strengths and development areas with your group (no more than 3 people).
  2. Step 2: focus on one development area (a strand of teaching rather than entire category) and describe in as much detail as you like, how you currently do this (e.g. how you currently manage KS4 homework)
  3. Step 3: your group can ask clarifying questions e.g. how do you follow-up on missed homework? The person presenting, answers the questions.
  4. Step 4: your group asks more probing questions e.g. how do you ensure homework is completed independently? (Try to ask a brief question and to avoid giving advice; give the person presenting time to think).
  5. Step 5: once you’ve exhausted useful questions, sum up what you have learned/realised.

Monitoring and support:

We then track observations; including self-identified strengths and weaknesses on a shared and open database. We refer to this often as it evolves throughout the year. I am happy to share an anonymised version with you.

I hope you find this useful reading to help guide yourself or a group of teachers within your own school.

To read what programme we have for our teachers moving from ‘Requires Improvement to Good’, click here.

See Copyright notice below.

Creative Commons License

@TeacherToolkit by Ross Morrison McGill is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
Based on all work published at www.teachertoolkit.me.

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