A leadership development resource pack specifically aimed at Head Teachers wanting to ‘get the SEF done’ and ensuring it is closely related to the school’s Improvement Plan.

The Head Teacher issue that prompted the creation of the SEF to SIP resource pack:

“The school documentation is taking too much of my leadership time. We need to get the SEF and SIP ‘done’ and clearly linked so that we can concentrate on our core purpose – making the education of our children the best it can be.”

The contents of the resource pack (all Word documents):

  1. Overview of how to best use the resource pack – the rationale and guiding principles
  2. SEF template (with all references to the EIF Section 5 April 2021 version)
  3. A comprehensive guide to writing each section, with prompts and questions, including examples
  4. 55 evaluation phrases and statement starters to help with SEF composition
  5. Template for initial inspection conversation including Covid 19 specific questions
  6. Clarity and exposition of the difference between evaluation and description
  7. An evidence library for signposting
  8. School Improvement Plan template with an example

The SEF to SIP resource pack is available from either Nicki or Alistair and costs £150.00

The Self-Evaluation Framework

For many years we have been supporting school leaders in carrying out effective self-evaluation which has then directly informed the next stages of school improvement planning.

The SEF and SIP are intended as tools, to be used very regularly by schools as they work to drive improvement. They are not intended as evidence for inspection, but inevitably, they are used to support the inspection process and to demonstrate the quality of leadership within the school.

We have always worked from the Section 5 Handbook. We recognise that ‘good’ schools have a Section 8 inspection, but any inspection can move to a Section 5 and so it seems sensible to use that as our template. The Section 8 SIH has no descriptors and those in the Section 5 provide a good basis for self-evaluation.

As each iteration of the Inspection Framework has evolved, we have changed our materials to meet the needs of schools.

Our initial SEF took the many bullet points from the School Inspection Handbook grade descriptors and supported schools in preparing responses to each area. This was highly effective but incredibly lengthy.

In our latest version, we have gone back to the latest Section 5 School Inspection Handbook (April 2021) and taken a step back to the information preceding the descriptors.

There are two sections to our SEF. Section A contains information about the context of the school; the progress against previous Ofsted issues and the areas identified on the School Improvement Plan. Section B is where we evaluate the five Ofsted judgement areas and the overall effectiveness of the school.

We have crafted the questions of each section to capture the essential elements that need to be evaluated. There are 50 questions in total. Each question is evaluated and evidence to support the self-evaluation are identified. At the end of each of the five judgement areas, action points are identified which are then transferred to the School Improvement Plan.

To support leaders in their evaluation, there is a comprehensive guide providing suggestions for the questions leaders should ask themselves in responding.

We have also created a list of possible evidence that could be signposted by school leaders. The intention is not that this is collated, but simply identified.

The School Improvement Plan

We always reference this as an Improvement Plan, not a Development Plan. Our logic is that developments are on-going areas that would happen anyway. Improvements are those strategic issues that are going to make a real difference to the school.

If self-evaluation is effective, it will directly inform the SIP – issues in the SIP must come from the SEF. Our suggestion is that when improvement areas are identified whilst writing the SEF, that these are highlighted and immediately transferred to Section A4 – ‘key areas identified for improvement’.

Our SIP is very simple. There are three non-negotiables that must be answered before an issue can be put on the SEF.

1. Do you have a compelling reason for the improvement? Without this there may be resistance to the change. Why would you team want to spend time and effort if they don’t understand why you want to initiate this change.

2. Can you identify the clear vision of the future i.e.. The impact of the change? If the team don’t know what it is you are trying to achieve, they may well be confused about the direction of travel.

3. Do you have a coherent action plan identifying the steps needed.? If the team don’t know what you want them to do then they can’t support the change.

Our suggestion is that you capture the issue on the SIP overview, contained in the pack, – a single sheet to display your School Improvement actions for the year. You then complete a more detailed plan using the template – there is a sample in the pack. Using this model, the SIP will not be overly large, but will be a working document that can be regularly annotated to update, at least once a term.

We would also suggest that the same proforma is used for Subject Improvement Plans – the model works just as well for these although we would suggest no more than 3-4 actions for the year for subject plans.

Prior to the first lockdown, a priority for many schools was further development of subject leaders and those with other areas of responsibility.

The reason for this focus was largely due to the greater emphasis on the role of subject leaders within the school inspection framework.

You can view some Sample SEF Responses here

Need help to improve the quality of teaching in your school?

Alistair Shaw and Nicki Bell are former Head Teachers and accredited leadership coaches. Talk to them today to discuss
how OLS can help your teachers maximise their potential.

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