How to move towards ‘Outstanding’: Part 2

how to move towards outstanding

Getting to outstanding is a big task but possible for all schools given that the latest Ofsted inspection framework is overwhelmingly related to demonstrating high rates of pupil progress. This article is the second in a series that will explore what it means to be outstanding.  Read the first part here.

Outstanding – what you will be judged on

The Ofsted definition is that the four areas of Outcomes, Teaching Learning & Assessment (TLA), Personal Development Behaviour & Welfare (PDBW), Leadership & Management (L&M) are all judged to be outstanding (exceptionally one of these except TLA can be good). In addition, Spiritual Moral Social & Cultural (SMSC) aspects must be strong and Safeguarding effective. If there is a Sixth Form, this generally needs to be outstanding as well.

How do I know if it is outstanding?

This is an outcomes led model so getting these (this means rates of progress) really high is the key. The Progress 8 measure for secondary schools will be very significant from this year as the 5A*-C including English and Maths attainment one disappears.

getting to outstanding

Key aspects to consider that will support great teaching

As described in the previous article, the first priority is to work towards ensuring teaching is outstanding. Here are some suggestions for other aspects that will support this further:

  • Ensure that your assessment system is in place. Living with ‘life after levels’ is both an opportunity and a threat but do treat it as the former! You’ll need to have an assessment system in place that enables:
    • teachers to accurately diagnose what pupils can and can’t do
    • teachers to plan for the next steps in learning
    • leaders to monitor and evaluate the impact of teaching on learning by tracking progress robustly of all pupils, regardless of ‘group’ or age.   This needs to be done frequently enough to have an impact on intervention strategies for those falling behind but not so often that it becomes a time-consuming exercise that tells you very little
    • provide helpful information for pupils as well as their parents in how they can support their child with their learning
  • Don’t make your assessment system too complex – it is reckoned that you should be able to describe it to an inspector within 10 minutes and it is fully understood, anything longer is likely to be too complex.
  • The assessment/marking policy that you develop is the one teachers will be assessed against at inspection time.
  • It is really worth investing heavily in quality data management. This includes having software that will collect and analyse your data for you but fundamentally having a highly competent data manager who understands data and can relate this to teaching. This is easier said than done but without this, the analysis might be misleading or lacking a focus on critical aspects in your context.
  • Ensuring target setting for pupils’ achievement is flexible enough to provide challenge and drive up standards but allows for those who need this to be more nuanced. Progress for ‘more able’ pupils is a national concern at the moment so really ensure that targets are stretching. It is often too blunt to demand that all pupils make ‘x levels of progress by…’ – this has to be more sophisticated that takes starting points into account. However, if gaps in attainment for disadvantaged students are to close, then these pupils generally need to make greater progress than their peers so targets will need to be even more challenging.

Plan of Action

Below is a suggested list of strategies that will help the school move towards being outstanding.  Please feel free to download and print out a copy for your own reference.



This article has described the key features of being Ofsted ‘Outstanding’ and considered assessment, target setting and data management in more detail than was possible in ‘part 1’. Again, this has largely ignored PDBW since generally really good teaching that occurs consistently reduces the opportunities for less good behaviour. Other aspects of PDBW do need attention, such as attendance and exclusions and I will address these, along with greater clarity on the remaining topics outlined in the plan of action, in future articles. We can all strive to be outstanding and, with its greater focus on pupil progress, the latest Ofsted inspection framework allows us to do this.


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