Every school dreads a visit from the Ofsted inspector. Despite the panic and stress of preparing for the inspection, many schools receive positive Ofsted reports and grades. The good report is often a deserved reward for the effort put into preparation. But, it is not the time for your school to rest on its laurels.
After such an intense period, it can be tempting to ease off and admire your new Ofsted report. While you should celebrate your hard work, you are faced with a huge opportunity. By communicating Ofsted’s findings to parents in the right way, you can enhance your reputation much further than the report does itself.
Recently, we analysed three examples of good responses to poor Ofsted reports. In this blog post, we will examine more good responses; this time to positive Ofsted reports.
Retford Oaks Academy — Retford, Nottinghamshire
In July 2017, this Retford secondary school received a ‘good’ rating from Ofsted and was praised for providing a positive, safe, and successful learning experience for all students.
The school’s response to the report exhibited a number of commendable features. Firstly, they provided quotes from a selection of key figures: the principal, senior executive leader, and acting CEO of the school’s multi-academy trust. In doing so, the school gave parents views from across the school and its sponsor.
The quotes themselves are also great examples of good communication, especially that of the senior executive leader. He said:
“We know the hard work doesn’t stop here. Our journey is of continual improvement and so we will strive to push ourselves to develop our academy and ensure we offer a positive, safe and successful learning experience for all students. I have no doubt that we will achieve our ultimate aim of being an outstanding academy in the near future.”
There are many stories of schools achieving a good Ofsted grade but then failing to continue improving. Subsequently, when the next Ofsted inspection takes place, the school is downgraded. These experiences mean school communities are even more wary of being complacent after receiving a positive Ofsted report. To counteract concerns, schools should reaffirm their commitment to further improvement, and that is exactly what this quote does.
Lesson to Learn: Provide parents with as many views as possible. This reaffirms positivity and demonstrates more than just a single perspective. Most importantly, though, make sure your response expresses your commitment to making further improvements following the Ofsted report.
Westwoodside Church of England Academy — Doncaster, South Yorkshire
Every school wants to send good news to parents. When the Ofsted report comes back and your school has improved from ‘requires improvement’ to ‘good’, it’s time to spread the word. This is a great opportunity to not only promote the achievement, but also generate a lot of goodwill toward your school.
It’s an opportunity that Westwoodside Church of England Academy took in June 2016. In revealing the good news to their school community, Westwoodside shared credit across everyone involved with the school:
“The children themselves should be very proud of the way they conduct themselves in school and how they live out our shared values. Their positive attitudes to learning; respect for staff and one another and their conduct throughout the school day is reflected in our report.”
“Thank you to all parents who spoke to inspectors and made such positive comments about our school. I know they are very much appreciated by the staff team.”
“And finally, I’d like to thank our staff for their hard work, determination and willingness to go that extra mile to ensure the very best for your children!”
By praising all members of the school community, Westwoodside created a real sense of togetherness. Sharing the credit for the improved Ofsted grade gives everyone involved a source of pride and strengthens the relationship between the school and its community.
Lesson to Learn: Praising parents and your community for their positive impact on your school is a great move. It makes them feel valued and encourages them to get, or stay, involved.
Hindhayes Infant School — Street, Somerset
When good things happen to your school, it is important to highlight and promote them. Receiving a positive Ofsted report is no different; but there remains a balance to be struck.
No Ofsted report is perfect, and they always offer recommendations. While a positive tone is necessary for your communication with parents, it is not ill-advised to reference Ofsted’s recommendation points. In fact, it can be advantageous.
After a short Ofsted inspection in 2017, Hindhayes Infant School was confirmed as a ‘good’ school. In communicating the result to parents, the school highlighted the positive messages first, before then discussing two key action points.
“One key action point was the attainment of less able children in writing. We had already identified this as an area for development and have been working on this since September. The other key action point was to provide more self initiated activities for the children in the Foundation Stage, which we will incorporate into our planning from January.”
Addressing these action points shows the school to be strong, responsible, and committed to improvement. They don’t shy away from appraisal, accept the results, and explain their plans going forward.
Hindhayes also goes one step further than just outlining their improvement plans. They recognise and highlight the importance of their role and emphasise their expectancy to continue making progress:
“Being an infant school the children are only with us for a short time so it is imperative that we provide them with a sound base on which to continue their educational journey. We see every opportunity as a learning experience and will continue to build on this success.”
Don’t Miss Out on This Opportunity
When your school receives a positive Ofsted report, communicating it to parents is a great opportunity. If it is done right, the communication can unite your school community, improve relationships with parents, and drive the school forward. Can your school really afford to miss out on these benefits?
The Eduprise team has worked with schools across the country. We help them maximise the impact of their good news, refine communication with parents, and strengthen their relationship with their community.
If you think there’s capacity for your school to communicate better and build stronger connections with parents and the community, we’d be happy to help, so contact us today.