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Q1. What’s going well – and not so well?

Start by self-evaluating your department. Make accurate judgments about the quality of teaching, learning and assessment in your department. Be honest about the effectiveness of your leadership and management.  And of course – judge your pupil’s personal development, behavior and outcomes. Take time to review the Ofsted grade descriptors. Yes, they’re designed for whole-school inspection, but they can be applied to your department – and they’ll help you make accurate judgments.

Q2. What evidence supports that?

Next, summarise the evidence that proves your judgments are accurate. Be evaluative rather than descriptive. Focus on impact and outcomes – don’t just describe provision or intentions. Resist the temptation to copy/paste tables of data and statistics – refer to it and attach it – or make links to evidence kept elsewhere. Make each sentence an impact statement and use the “so what” test rigorously: what has been the impact on teaching? What has been the impact on outcomes?

Q3. What’s helping and hindering?

Now, analyse the factors that are helping or hindering in each area. Identify the circumstances, conditions, practices, people, policies or resources which are having an affect on performance. There’s no need for detail – a bullet-point list will suffice. Take time though, to consider which factors are having the greatest impact – and bring those to the top of the list. Also, don’t focus solely on current issues – anticipate those which may affect your department in the future – and list those too. 

Q4. What are you going to do about it?

Finally, plan strategies to strengthen the helping factors and tackle those that are hindering. Create a detailed action plan for each issue, plan what you intend to do about it, who will be involved, when it’ll be done by – but most importantly identify how you will know when the action is having an impact – the success criteria. When you carry out your plan – be sure to re-evalaute the impact. In effect, you need to start the process again and re-ask the first question… “Now, what’s going well – and not so well?”