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Subject Leadership and the Ofsted Inspection Framework

The Ofsted inspection framework contains lots of useful insights for subject leaders who may want to feel prepared for a possible Deep Dive into their subject.

It's full of statements and key words that might help subject leaders to think through particular aspects of their leadership.

The purpose of using the inspection framework to guide your thinking about successes and next steps for leading a subject should never be solely as preparation for an inspection, but for developing and improving your subject in one way or another.

Taking relevant statements from the inspection framework, and identifying key words in each, I've created this question grid which helps subject and curriculum leaders to:

  • identify past and current successes

  • think through where current priorities might lie

  • be confident to tell the story of their subject with clarity

Using the grid

Subject and curriculum leaders do not need to answer every question on the grid.

Instead, a good starting place is the 'Present' column. A quick scan down the question pairs ('What are things like now?' and 'What are you currently doing?') should very quickly highlight areas where you do not have immediate answers - it's these areas (look along to the left to see the category, and click the key word to read the related Ofsted inspection framework statement) that might need to become the focus of a little more thought. Of course, with some further thinking it might be the case that you can answer the question, and in that case, move on.

Essentially the grid is designed to act as a prompt, helping you to make sure that your thinking has covered all relevant bases. As you do this, you may be made aware of particular areas of need: when this is the case, a step back into the 'Past' column might be a good idea as a starting point for any thoughts about priotising goals and actions.

There are actually three separate grids, one for each of the following sections of the inspection framework:

  • Quality of Education

  • Personal Development

  • Leadership and Management

Because of this, and because of the scope of the framework itself, it is potentially overwhelming, I admit. What I'd urge if you're feeling overwhelmed looking at the grid, is that you acknowledge that Rome wasn't built in a day - you aren't going to get everything done all at once. When you know that there's lots to do, use the 'Future' and (importantly) the 'Future future', column) to start to think through your priorities: what needs doing next, and what needs shelving for now? It's a great thing to have such a handle on your subject that you can talk confidently about what you are doing, what you will do next, and what will happen after that (at a much later date). Having this kind of knowledge shows others that you really do know your subject well.

If you decide to answer the questions, the grid itself can be the place where you type in and store your answers. You could either type directly into the boxes, or open up the 'Review' tab in word, highlight the question, and click 'New comment', as shown below:

This of course is not intended to become a document that needs to be shared with anyone else, just a personal prompt (and possibly record) of things to think about to inform you as you lead your subject.

If you would like Aidan to work with your organisation on subject leadership, use the 'Contact' tab above, or the phone or email details at the top of the page to get in touch.

To read what other school leaders and teachers think about my work, head over to my Testimonials page:


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Aidan Severs Consulting Education Consultant

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