Securing accountability with leadership actions: #360Review (Part 5 of 6)

Reading Time: 12 minutes

In my fifth self-refection on leadership, I offer an insight into my own school leadership appraisal. In this post: Securing accountability with leadership actions; I pose a series of questions for the reader and offer my very own public #360Review.

I would strongly recommend you are comfortable before reading this article. This is a very detailed public self-review and analysis of my own leadership over the past 4 years; working in challenging London secondary schools. The length warrants the type of blogpost for my own reflection, as well as others who may come across this read when aspiring towards school-leadership.

You are reading part 5 of a 6-part series of leadership articles on: ‘Securing Accountability with leadership actions’. #360Review

Securing accountability with leadership actions.

Photo Credit: IvanWalsh.com via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: IvanWalsh.com via Compfight cc

This leadership reflection has been taken from the Leadership Standards and falls under two distinct categories and into six key areas.

  • The categories are Knowledge and Professional Qualities.
  • The key areas are Shaping the future; Leading learning and teaching; Developing self and working with others; Managing the organisation; Securing accountability; Strengthening the community.

Definition:

#360Review

Securing accountability: (Knowledge):

The headteacher should know about: statutory education frameworks, including governance; public services policy and accountability frameworks, including self-evaluation and multi-agency working; the contribution that education makes to developing, promoting and sustaining a fair and equitable society; the use of a range of evidence, including performance data, to support, monitor, evaluate and improve aspects of school life, including challenging poor performance; the principles and practice of quality assurance systems, including school review, self-evaluation and performance management; stakeholder and community engagement in, and accountability for, the success and celebration of the school’s performance.” (Knowledge)

  • How do you hold others to account?
  • What is best practice for holding yourself and other teachers to account?
Photo Credit: HikingArtist.com via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: HikingArtist.com via Compfight cc

Here are the key questions to consider, with my own analysis in the photo that follows.

  1. I know about statutory education frameworks, including governance
  2. I know about public services policy and accountability frameworks including self-evaluation.
  3. I know about public services policy and accountability frameworks including multi-agency working.
  4. I know about the contribution that education makes to developing, promoting and sustaining a fair and equitable society
  5. I know about the use of a range of evidence, including performance data, to support aspects of school life, including challenging poor performance.
  6. I know about the use of a range of evidence, including performance data, to monitor aspects of school life, including challenging poor performance.
  7. I know about the use of a range of evidence, including performance data, to evaluate and improve aspects of school life, including challenging poor performance.
  8. I know about the principles and practice of quality assurance systems, including school review.
  9. I know about the principles and practice of quality assurance systems, including self-evaluation.
  10. I know about the principles and practice of quality assurance systems, including performance management.
  11. I know about stakeholder engagement in, and accountability for, the success and celebration of the school’s performance.
  12. I know about community engagement in, and accountability for, the success and celebration of the school’s performance.

Self-review of Securing accountability: Knowledge.

My self-review – in terms of knowledge – is shown below. I have provided the reader with a comparison of my #360Review between August 2010; compared to this present day. Click to enlarge.

Securing accountability - Knowledge - click to open
Securing accountability – Knowledge – Click to open

Self-analysis:

Looking back at August 2010, there were 6 leadership questions under this strand of accountability I felt unfamiliar with. Over the years, especially due to increased social-networks and access to information, my knowledge of policy and accountability frameworks has strengthened. Self-evaluation of my own performance; as well as others’ and of my school, has heightened.

Quality assurance practice and principle has evolved as my own leadership experience has developed. I’d like to consider that this public sharing of my own leadership review, is an indication of the levels of self-evaluation I promote in others.

Securing accountability: (Professional Qualities):

The headteacher should be committed to: principles and practice of school self-evaluation; the school working effective and efficiently towards the academic, spiritual, moral, social, emotional and cultural development of all its pupils; individual, team and whole-school accountability for pupil learning outcomes. The headteacher should be able to: demonstrate political insight and anticipate trends; engage the school community in the systematic and rigorous self-evaluation of the work of the school; collect and use a rich set of data to understand the strengths and weaknesses of the school; combine the outcomes of regular school self-review with external evaluations in order to develop the school.” (Professional Qualities)

Photo Credit: budcaddell via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: budcaddell via Compfight cc

Here are the key questions to consider, with my own analysis in the photo that follows.

  1. I am committed to principles and practice of school self-evaluation.
  2. I am committed to the school working effective and efficiently towards the academic, spiritual, moral, social, emotional and cultural development of all its pupils
  3. I am committed to individual accountability for pupil learning outcomes.
  4. I am committed to team accountability for pupil learning outcomes.
  5. I am committed to whole-school accountability for pupil learning outcomes.
  6. I am able to demonstrate political insight.
  7. I am able to anticipate trends.
  8. I am able to engage the school community in the systematic and rigorous self-evaluation of the work of the school
  9. I am able to collect and use a rich set of data to understand the strengths and weaknesses of the school
  10. I am able to combine the outcomes of regular school self-review with external evaluations in order to develop the school.

Self-review of Securing accountability: Professional Qualities

My self-review for securing accountability – in terms of professional qualities – is shown below. I have provided the reader with a comparison of my #360Review between August 2010; compared to this present day. Click to enlarge.

Securing accountability - Professional Qualities - Click to open
Securing accountability – Professional Qualities – Click to open

Self-analysis:

Being able to anticipate trends is somewhat like being a fortune-teller. I often look to current headteachers and wonder how on earth they can predict trends. For example; expected data headlines; political ping-pong policies and even staff behaviours. One would assume, this comes with experience and being in a position of knowledge.

I have stated before that power is three-fold.

  1. Positional.
  2. Knowledge and expertise.
  3. Financial.

Headteachers – or those that are able to predict trends – are often in a position of power. Knowledge and expertise often being the paramount facet … I have worked hard to keep up to speed with policy; politics; the educational-climate we work in; as well as the thoughts of hundreds and hundreds of other practitioners across the UK and beyond.

There is not enough time in the day to be fully up to speed with principles and practice; but having the ability to hold myself to account is vital for the greater benefit of the institution. I know this is the job of the Chair of Governors, but what if I had an alternative mindset? Dare I say, ‘some’ senior leaders do not hold themselves and others to account. Some chair of governors may not be competent and fully equipped to do it either! Unwilling to engage; take into account, the views of others; ill-advised self-evaluation at the expense of individual pursuits.

A simple solution is to conduct your own self-reviews with other staff involved; ensure that you have regular appraisal meetings with your own governors (if you are a headteacher) and if you line-manage other staff, ensure you do this regularly too.

In a lighter-touch format, you could sign-up for email alerts from the DfE and Ofsted to keep yourself in the loop (and share this information with staff; governors and where needed, parents and students). This would ensure all staff are up to speed with latest guidance; policy changes and government recommendations. By doing this, I have been able to improve my own anticipation of trends and future pathways for myself; those I line-manage and those who line-manage myself.

 Photo Credit: budcaddell via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: budcaddell via Compfight cc

360 Evidence:

When I applied for Tomorrows Heads in 2010, this is the feedback I received. At the time of reading this, I strongly disagreed with the feedback; but I have worked hard to ensure I am working at the next level. The report is based on a role-play; interview; group presentation; group-interview and formal application. Where I have indicted (disagree) is based on my perception of self in 2010 and not today.

Conceptual Thinking is:

People who scored in the same range as you tended to demonstrate the following behaviours at the assessment centre:

  • Sees patterns based on their own life experience
  • Employs basic reasoning or judgement to identify trends or patterns between issues
  • Applies simple rules, common sense, and past experiences to identify problems

People who scored higher than you tended to demonstrate the following behaviours at the assessment centre:

  • Spots similar patterns, trends or inconsistencies
  • Draws on prior experience to make sense of similar situations or issues
  • Applies learned concepts within their everyday work
Photo Credit: neilslorance via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: neilslorance via Compfight cc

Curiosity and Eagerness to Learn

People who scored in the same range as you tended to demonstrate the following behaviours at the assessment centre:

  • Eager to develop and learn from others
  • Is motivated and energised by the prospect of building own knowledge and experience

People who scored higher than you tended to demonstrate the following behaviours at the assessment centre:

  • Takes up continuous professional development opportunities (disagree)
  • Uses available resources to expand their knowledge, and experience (disagree)
  • Looks for ways to develop their professional expertise (disagree)

Self Awareness

People who scored in the same range as you tended to demonstrate the following behaviours at the assessment centre:

  • Is aware of own feelings
  • Takes time to evaluate own thoughts and behaviour

People who scored higher than you tended to demonstrate the following behaviours at the assessment centre:

  • Identifies situations that arouse strong emotions in themselves
  • Expresses own thoughts and emotions appropriately (disagree)
  • Recognises their own strengths and development areas (disagree)

Resilience and Emotional Maturity

People who scored in the same range as you tended to demonstrate the following behaviours at the assessment centre:

  • Behaves calmly and professionally when under pressure
  • Learns and bounces back from adversity
  • Listens to negative feedback and reacts appropriately

People who scored higher than you tended to demonstrate the following behaviours at the assessment centre:

  • Stays optimistic in the face of setbacks (disagree)
  • Makes attempts to understand and adjust future approach, learning from the experience
  • Seeks out and acts on constructive criticism, learning from it to improve performance (disagree)
Photo Credit: HikingArtist.com via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: HikingArtist.com via Compfight cc

 Integrity

People who scored in the same range as you tended to demonstrate the following behaviours at the assessment centre:

  • Acts consistently in line with own values and principles
  • Treats others with respect; acts with dignity
  • Keeps promises and is honest with others

People who scored higher than you tended to demonstrate the following behaviours at the assessment centre:

  • Brings up ethical concerns
  • Appropriately expresses own thoughts and opinions when faced with a situation or issue (disagree)
  • Shares information, insights, or comments when it would be easier to refrain from being open about the situation

Personal Drive

People who scored in the same range as you tended to demonstrate the following behaviours at the assessment centre:

  • Wants to do the job well and is positive about good performance
  • Is intent on improving performance
  • Expresses a desire to do better

People who scored higher than you tended to demonstrate the following behaviours at the assessment centre:

  • Strives to meet and improve on personal performance objectives (disagree)
  • Keeps track of and measures outcomes against personal standards not imposed by others (disagree)
  • Looks for ways to improve ways of working in immediate environment
Photo Credit: HikingArtist.com via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: HikingArtist.com via Compfight cc

Impact and Influence

People who scored in the same range as you tended to demonstrate the following behaviours at the assessment centre:

  • Takes single action to persuade
  • Uses direct persuasion when interacting with others
  • Appeals to reason and others self interest
  • Holds the attention of an audience when presenting or leading a discussion

People who scored higher than you tended to demonstrate the following behaviours at the assessment centre:

  • Carefully prepares data to use in persuading others (disagree)
  • Uses at least two different points or arguments in an attempt to influence others (disagree)
  • Takes multiple action to persuade and gain support

 Inspiring Others

People who scored in the same range as you tended to demonstrate the following behaviours at the assessment centre:

  • Leads by example
  • Demonstrates to others what is possible
  • Explains the reasons for a decision

People who scored higher than you tended to demonstrate the following behaviours at the assessment centre:

  • Makes work exciting for others (disagree – what an insult!)
  • Unites others around a common goal or objective
  • Generates energy and enthusiasm when working with others (disagree)
  • Comes across with confidence and credibility; sees self as a leader (disagree)
Photo Credit: Neal. via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: Neal. via Compfight cc

 Relating to Others

People who scored in the same range as you tended to demonstrate the following behaviours at the assessment centre:

  • Recognises emotions in others
  • Reads body language, facial expressions and tone of voice and responds appropriately
  • Treats others with care and respect
  • Builds and maintains rapport with students and colleagues

People who scored higher than you tended to demonstrate the following behaviours at the assessment centre:

  • Understands poorly expressed thoughts, concerns and emotions
  • Infers meaning beyond what is being said (disagree)
  • Takes time to form relationships with students and colleagues (strongly disagree)
  • Actively listens to others to understand different perspectives, constraints and concerns (disagree)

 Developing Others

People who scored in the same range as you tended to demonstrate the following behaviours at the assessment centre:

  • Openly expresses faith or belief in the abilities of others
  • Looks for the chance to help others to grow
  • Shows intent to help others
  • Takes time to understand the needs of others

People who scored higher than you tended to demonstrate the following behaviours at the assessment centre:

  • Provides practical support to help others to accomplish tasks (disagree)
  • Gives reasons and rationale to help others learn from their mistakes (disagree)
  • Delegates work activities with the development of the individual in mind (strongly disagree)

 Collaboration

People who scored in the same range as you tended to demonstrate the following behaviours at the assessment centre:

  • Genuinely values input and expertise from a range of people
  • Displays a willingness to learn from others
  • Creates consensus on ideas generated in groups
  • Articulates and uses others ‘ perspectives and builds these into plans

People who scored higher than you tended to demonstrate the following behaviours at the assessment centre:

  • Publicly credits others who have performed well (disagree)
  • Creates purpose, clarity and focus on shared goals and ways of working
  • Encourages colleagues to network with others both internally and externally (disagree)
Photo Credit: HikingArtist.com via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: HikingArtist.com via Compfight cc

Holding to Account

People who scored in the same range as you tended to demonstrate the following behaviours at the assessment centre:

  • Tells people what they need to do
  • Delegates tasks or activities appropriately
  • Clearly communicates what is expected of others

People who scored higher than you tended to demonstrate the following behaviours at the assessment centre:

  • Clarifies expectations as well as standards required (disagree)
  • Allocates tasks or objectives based on who is best placed to deliver them (disagree)
  • Checks in with individuals to ensure they understand what is expected of them (disagree)

Moral Purpose:

People who scored in the same range as you tended to demonstrate the following behaviours at the assessment centre:

  • Shows some evidence of wanting to make a difference to the lives of children and young people
  • Shows some evidence of seeing the role of the headteacher as a means of achieving this across a whole school and community

People who scored higher than you tended to demonstrate the following behaviours at the assessment centre:

  • Shows strong evidence of wanting to make a difference to the lives of children and young people (disagree)
  • Sees the role of the headteacher as a means of achieving this across a whole school and community
  • Has a belief that schools have a crucial role to play in changing lives and improving life chances (disagree)

My opinion:

So, there you go. I appreciate every process has a set criteria for performance and that I failed to meet more than; according to Tomorrows Heads definition: ‘competency at a complex or an exceptional level’. By definition, I performed in line or above effective level! *Note, the programme is specifiacally designed for those not currently working as senior teachers. When I was interviewed, I was in my 2nd year of leadership and I believe, was not the target-audience for the limited spaces available. I’m not bitter – honest   🙂

The verdict:

Photo Credit: HikingArtist.com via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: HikingArtist.com via Compfight cc

Using national guidance to collate evidence, I should show that I… (with my own summary in red font):

  • Fulfil commitments arising from contractual accountability to the governing body. (I am confident this is achieved and sustained through my leadership.)
  • Develop a school ethos which enables everyone to work collaboratively, share knowledge and understanding, celebrate success and accept responsibility for outcomes. (Working with 150 staff, this is a significant challenge. I do my part to maintain the school vision and ethos in everything I do and hold staff and students to account when and where needed. This is an ongoing task.)
  • Ensure individual staff accountability is clearly defined, understood and agreed and are subject to rigorous review and evaluation. (I am confident this is achieved and sustained through my leadership of appraisal; staffing-structure; staff-reviews; contractual; appointments and pay-decisions; as well as tailored professional development.)
  • Work with the governing body (providing information, objective advice and support) to enable it to meet its responsibilities. (Much work to do on this point. My whole-school role to improve CPD pathways for all, includes the governing body. We have initiated training, but I must do more to keep them informed and hold them to account, in terms of their responsibilities to report back; to be fully trained in aspects of school-life to support staff.)
  • Develop and present a coherent, understandable and accurate account of the school’s performance to a range of audiences including governors, parents and carers. (I am confident this is achieved and sustained through my leadership.)
  • Reflect on personal contribution to school achievements and take account of feedback from others. (I am confident this is achieved and sustained through my leadership – although I am not quite yet a headteacher, there is clearly more work to do!)

End.

Further reading:

In Part 6 of the leadership series, you will be able to view my own #360Review on Strengthening the community. Probably the greatest difficultly of senior leadership – beyond your own institution. In part 6 of this series, I will offer comments from colleagues I have worked with as part of this leadership #360Review.

Meanwhile, make sure you have read the preceding parts of the series:

  1. What makes an outstanding senior leader? #360Review (Part 1)
  2. How would you lead teaching and learning? #360Review (Part 2)
  3. How to develop yourself and work with others? #360Review (Part 3)
  4. Can you manage the school organisation? #360Review (Part 4)
  5. This post.
  6. Headship: Can you engage with the internal and external school community? #360Review (Part 6)

Feedback welcome …

@TeacherToolkit

In 2010, Ross Morrison McGill founded @TeacherToolkit from a simple Twitter account through which he rapidly became the 'most followed teacher on social media in the UK'. In 2015, he was nominated as one of the '500 Most Influential People in Britain' by The Sunday Times as a result of being most influential in the field of education. He remains the only classroom teacher to feature to this day ... Sharing resources and ideas online as @TeacherToolkit, he has built this website (c2008) which has been described as one of the 'most influential blogs on education in the UK', winning the UK Blog Awards (2018). Read more...

4 thoughts on “Securing accountability with leadership actions: #360Review (Part 5 of 6)

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  • 22nd February 2014 at 11:06 pm
    Permalink

    More reflective excellence Ross. I’m going to re-read each of the first five many times over. Fair play for laying yourself bare/ putting yourself up there to be shot down (although having silly thousands of followers must help). I’m really enjoying the series and as a 2nd year member of SLT find the questions and reflections hugely important for “where am I?”
    Damian (@Benneypenyrheol)

    Reply
    • 23rd February 2014 at 10:41 am
      Permalink

      Hi Damian. Thanks for the comment. I appreciate this particular post is far TOO long; so thanks for reading. I felt it was important to include a full review of my leadership, by inc. the THs report. It can be very hard to hold up a mirror against oneself, and to agree/disagree with the feedback. By sharing “this” detailed blog, I’m hoping that those who do/do not know me will be able to let me know if I am on track.

      Reply
  • 23rd February 2014 at 11:10 am
    Permalink

    I found it interesting to read too, Ross, and like Damian, admire your transparency.

    It’s good to reflect on how well we respond to criticism. Often our initial response is defensive but we do them go away and process the information and can, in time, see its source and appreciate its value. We need to remember this when offering criticism to others too.

    Reply

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