Thursday, 20 November 2014


In a world where OFSTED strikes fear into the hearts of headteachers and teachers, it is important to remember that the current short-term, quick fix and interventionist approach is not based on in-depth understanding of the research evidence about what works or a detailed understanding of the context and culture of schools.

It is important to remember that the core business of schools is teaching and learning and, to achieve this, the school leaders have to find ways to overcome the many obstacles learners are facing. We need to look carefully at John Hattie's work and the Sutton Trust Toolkit on 'what works and what doesn't' and stop doing the things that have little impact on outcomes. Importantly, schools, headteachers, teachers and students need to focus and to move from a culture of dependency to a culture of enterprise, discipline and hard work supported by feedback, master coaching and deliberate practice.

That requires strong and highly effective learning leadership, powerful governance, an organisational infrastructure with beautiful systems, financial resources and autonomy, professional excellence at all levels, intelligent accountability and brilliant, responsive and flexible support. We know that some schools have moved very successfully in this direction and already achieved great things. We need to contribute develop approaches based on practical advice and insightful reflections about the issues faced by our schools; approaches built on research and evidence and rooted in the reality of effecting lasting change and adding to what the schools already know.

There are no quick fixes but we do know what works and what doesn't! We must develop a "can do" approach where there are only challenges and opportunities not problems. We know the task we all face in building brilliant provision and excellence for all is enormous but we know how to do this and we simply need to be break the challenges and opportunities down into bite-sized, manageable chunks and develop the strategies and activities to make a real difference.

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