#PauseOfsted – Time to Go Back to First Principles

I believe that Ofsted has had a significantly positive impact in raising standards in schools over the last 20 years or so.  Expectations have been raised, mediocre practice has been challenged and schools that were letting down their pupils have been exposed.   Moreover, any system that gives great amounts of autonomy to schools needs also to have clear accountability procedures. 

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I have been a headteacher of one sort or another (LA, Principal, Executive Principal) for nearly 20 years and have lost count of how many inspections I’ve been through.  I even worked as an inspector briefly, under the initiative when they recruited NLEs, so I have seen it from the other side of the table too.  Since 2012, when @headsroundtable was first formed it has become increasingly clear, in all our discussions about moving the system forward, that the high-stakes nature of the inspection system is frankly disabling and disempowering headteachers and schools from getting on with improving the lives of their staff and their students. Continue reading

Damming the Flood – dealing with bad news

Psychologists sometimes describe being emotionally overwhelmed by negative emotions as being ‘flooded’. Your emotional foundations are overrun and can feel in danger of being washed away. At some stage, all Headteachers will experience this overwhelming surge wave of negative emotions when facing bad news. A serious incident, a bad Ofsted experience, a poor set of examination results, a trusted colleague suddenly resigning. How do you cope with the breaching of your emotional storm protection? Continue reading

What are the pros and cons of keeping EHCPs?

It has been a challenging few weeks at school, as the days get dark, cold and wet in the lead up to Christmas.  For many of our children and young people with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND), Christmas is not something to look forward to.  Extended social gatherings, heightened expectations and additional family pressures mount up to rising anxieties.  This is also a feeling mirrored by parent groups as their journey into parenthood has often not been straightforward. Continue reading

Putting social justice at the heart of education leadership

Based on a panel contribution at SSAT National Conference on Deep Social Justice

I wonder how many of you, like me, have often dreamed of the ability to create a force field around our school. A happy, bullet-proof place, capable of absorbing the waves of negativity in wider society…. just like in the movies. Continue reading