Headlines: June 13th, 2008

Strong leadership and self-knowledge are identified today as key factors in schools moving out of special measures. A report from Ofsted says, too, that schools need a strong sense of identity if they are to succeed and it sets out steps that local authorities and the Department of Children Schools and Families need to take to support schools.

Today’s report is based on inspection visits to 14 formerly inadequate schools which have been particularly successful in moving out of special measures. Ofsted says it hopes the report will inspire those schools currently in special measures, and encourage all schools that are trying to improve.

Christine Gilbert, the Chief Inspector of Schools said, “It is extremely encouraging that these schools have made the transformation from special measures to become either good or outstanding schools within one or two academic years. The report shows that if schools placed in special measures are willing to face up to the need for change and take appropriate action, they can improve very quickly and become outstanding schools.”

Highlighting the factors for success the report says headteachers need to show leadership in giving difficult messages, improving staff structures and emphasising that change is the only option. The schools in the report had also developed sets of well understood values and action plans including the views of all members of the school community and they kept up improvement by ensuring that actions were implemented in a sustained manner over time with their impact being evaluated and the action plan reviewed.

Ofsted is recommending that the DCSF should ensure that schools understand clearly how any external support they receive is intended to contribute to school improvement and that it should consider ways to capitalise on the experience and expertise of headteachers who have successfully made the journey from special measures to good or outstanding provision. Turning to local authorities it recommends that they ensure that assigned link advisers are experienced in working with schools in special measures and that they work closely with each school’s senior leaders and devise a clear exit strategy, with support being reduced proportionately.