Would You Lead a Requires Improvement School? 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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This is a blog about what would motivate headteachers to take on the leadership of a Requires Improvement or Special Measures school.

Forget the Queen’s Speech!

On 27th May 2015, Ofsted’s National Director for Schools, Sean Harford tweeted this; you can click the image to open/reply.

Ofsted Sean HarfordMy reply was below – click to open;

Ofsted Sean Harford

andOfsted Sean Harford

The responses have been flooding in all day! I have read through all of the tweets to Sean’s question – over 100 replies – and have amalgamated the headlines. I take no credit for the comments. You can see who said what in the thread here; I have also hyper-linked my favourite comments.

What would incentivise you?

  1. Give new headteachers 18 months; and wait until Raise Online is out before inspection; select Lead Inspectors very carefully.
  2. Give new headteachers 3 years to settle. It takes that long to really embed changes.
  3. Have yearly school improvement inspection with no overall grade for first 3 years to act as support for new headteachers.
  4. Inspect in tandem with e.g LA/ Challenge Partners / and other headteachers in order to contextualise data.
  5. Some form of mentoring system from a headteacher who has experience in RI & SM schools.
  6. RI/SM: Headteachers soften; get good support from HMI they appreciate – less monitoring and more support in early period would be helpful.
  7. Give 18 months-2 years before formal inspection. During this time assign one HMI who visits regularly but acts like a SIP.
  8. If failure means the end of a career, no incentives will motivate. That’s a political pressure that needs removing.
  9. I have just become HT at a SM sch. HMI very helpful in the process. The thing I need most is time and extra resources.
  10. Provide new headteachers with the cash to (at least second) a strong SLT to support what needs to be done.
  11. I feel that the inspector who puts the school into SM or RI should stay on and work with the head. They move forward together.
  12. Internal one day inspection offer to aid action planning for new HT. Deletion of historic data. You shouldn’t punish headteachers with old data.
  13. Gag ministers so they can’t spread fear through the profession that will stop good heads from risking their careers?
  14. After becoming an AI, I stopped considering schools in difficulty because I then couldn’t inspect.
  15. Move to two judgements: Good or RI. Put an end to SM & Outstanding. Limit use of this language.
  16. Suspend historical data. 24-36 month window for improvement. Establish early and develop consistent relationship with school.
  17. Use monitoring visits to support and develop work of school, linked to framework.
  18. Must be an inclusive and supportive package and not waiting to see what happens upon returning for inspection.
  19. I’m new HT this yr. Loving challenge and scope to inspire / change. However expected Ofsted was a sword of Damocles. 1 result = freedom to grow as a professional learning community & take long-term view. 2nd result = more external pressure & short-term narrow demands. I have a family to support so whilst I want challenge I can only take a certain amount of risk.

And general comments about Ofsted (and not the original question);

  1. Start using progress from starting points only. Recognise the difference in cohorts from year to year and stop analysing small groups.
  2. Confirm that forced structural changes actually harm the school improvement journey would be a start.
  3. Have less aggressive inspectors. Recognise the career ending impact that you have.
  4. Make no changes to the framework for five years. No updates or amendments. The instant compliance is crazy!
  5. Stop limiting judgements to a data grade and publish a tool showing statistical likelihood of being in each category based on 3yrs of data.
  6. It could be a really helpful role for OFSTED to support brokering or signposting.
  7. Abolish Ofsted and then we’d be free to do the right things in the school!
  8. Force all schools to be open all the time to all visitors. And give parents real choice! You must come visit us!
  9. Accept that genuine lasting improvements may not be ‘quick fixes’.
  10. All inspectors spending one term every two years teaching in a school to retain Ofsted role.
  11. The bottom line is to get confidence back in a system that is meant to support school improvement at all levels not erode it.
  12. Work with or National College to link new HTs up with Exec Head mentor.

And the tweets are still rolling in …

Sean Harford Ofsted

Two blogs of the day, stand out more than others, they are written by;

  1. Primary headeteacher here; Dear Sean
  2. and a blog from secondary headteacher here; What I think OFSTED should look like…

What do you think? What would make you take on a headship?

What would incentivise you to take on a Requires Improvement school or a school in Special Measures?

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Image: Shutterstock

8 thoughts on “Would You Lead a Requires Improvement School? by @TeacherToolkit

  1. Arguably, the hardest job is to take over an outstanding school from an outstanding head who everyone is devastated to see leave….

    If you take over a school that’s challenging, you have the opportunity really to make your mark, BUT:
    1. you have to go into it with your eyes open,
    2. you have to feel confident that you know what the priorities are, and
    3. you have faith in your capacity to lead the school through them.

    Just my opinion!

    Thanks for the post, Ross.

  2. Thank you for this. I would also like to thank Sean for asking the question! It’s good to reflect and harvest opinion. It would be exciting times if he acted up some of the ideas!

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