- Take time to listen to staff and decide on learning and performance goals that can shared by everyone. These should be built from people’s aspirations for the pupils’ learning, rather than external accountability targets, if possible.
- Work with staff to discuss, refine, and agree on a basic level of minimum expectations for lessons, with intensive support available where they are not met, and the clear expectation that it is a professional duty to improve. There should be a publicly endorsed recognition that sub-standard teaching will be intensively supported (by leaders and peers), but ultimately teachers will be dismissed if they are not making sufficient effort or improvement.
- Build trust by making sure members of the leadership team (followed by middle leaders) are the first to ask others to observe their lessons, and involve colleagues of all levels in observations and evaluations.
- Foster a collaborative culture of continuous learning and improvement, where teachers are always searching for ways to improve the learning of their pupils. This should be based, wherever possible, on high-quality evidence of effective teaching strategies and it should be evaluated rigorously. There needs to be an acknowledgement that mistakes will be made as a normal part of improvement, and also that they will be acted upon swiftly with extra help.
- Finally, you need to grow an understanding from the ground-up that failure to evaluate and improve your practice is unacceptable. This is absolutely not something that can be simply imposed from the top – you’ve got to work hard to sell the benefits, and build trust in your leadership that demonstrates that this isn’t just a stick with which to punish people, but a genuine attempt to create a supportive, self-improving environment.
- …inspection frameworks were subject to clearer public consultation that explicitly involved practising teachers, and were subject to ongoing review in the light of feedback from inspections and teachers. The framework should be explicitly about school improvement, not naming and shaming some and giving prizes to others.
- …inspection teams invited local headteachers and middle leaders and classroom teachers to accompany their inspection teams (although the latter would be there to observe and not pass judgement on the school) and ask these individuals to give feedback on the process of inspection. Even better, these teachers could be explicitly drawn from school who are due for inspection in the next 6-12 months, to build trust. Sir Michael Wilshaw has already appealed for more headteachers to take part in inspections, which is an excellent start.
- …Ofsted put much more emphasis in its reports on the quality of continuous professional development in the school as the fundamental process behind improving the process of teaching and learning. Schools should be seen to use ‘high-leverage’ strategies to improve teaching where possible (such as continuous refinement of feedback and questioning), and should be clearly evaluating its effect on attainment and engagement.
- … Ofsted should be an active participant in this, publicly describing collaborative, evidence-informed professional development being carried out by its inspectors, disseminating findings to the rest of the profession, and making their inspectors available to support classroom enquiry being carried out in schools.
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