No school ever wants to receive a poor Ofsted report. But, if you have, there’s no benefit in wishing things had been different. You can’t change the past, but you can talk about what’s going to improve in the future.
Although it may seem like the end of the world now, your school will be judged more on its response than the report itself. So, dust yourself down, forget about what’s gone before, and focus your efforts on making improvements. In this blog post, we discuss how schools should respond to a poor Ofsted report and use communications to limit the damage.
Unite the Senior Leadership Team through Internal Communication
With a strong, committed senior leadership team, enacting change will be much easier. Before the report has been released, you will receive your rating as well as verbal Ofsted recommendations. At this time, it is important to bring your senior leadership team together.
Use your internal communication channels to notify your team of the rating. This conversation should focus on the inspection and organising a time to start planning your school’s response.
Your senior leadership team will be grateful for the honest approach of your communications, and feel valued in being among the first to know the rating. By using communication to bring your most senior staff together, you can expect them to buy into your plan for discussing the report externally.
Review the Report from Your Audience’s Perspective
Feedback can feel like criticism. It’s natural to take this personally, but it can lead to a beneficial self-analysis and a change in perspective.
Good communication puts the intended audience at the forefront of the content. This means taking on the perspective of a parent to achieve the best results. It can be difficult to withdraw your connection with the school, but doing so prevents biased views and blurred thinking.
To attain the mindset of a parent, ask yourself:
- How will parents feel about the Ofsted rating?
- Will they think the findings are accurate or unjust?
- How concerned will they be?
- Will they want answers?
If you find answering these questions difficult, consult with your staff. Teachers will have regular contact with parents, and should be able to give you a better insight into their mindset. Once you have a better understanding of your audience, you can start work on the action plan.
Develop the Main Communication — an Action Plan
The action plan is the primary communication in responding to a poor Ofsted report, not the report itself. With a detailed action plan that addresses the concerns of parents, you will be heading in the right direction.
While the actions and improvements you intend to make should be decided internally, how you communicate them is what really matters to parents. Take the time to reflect on the following questions, and prepare answers that you think your audience would like to hear:
- Why have Ofsted taken this view on the school?
- When are you intending to make changes?
- Who is going to lead these changes?
- What changes will parents see within an improving school?
- How will this impact on the future education provision?
The intention of the externally facing action plan is to encourage the audience to visualise the future. It should help them understand how the changes will affect them and improve the school, and instil a more positive perspective.
If you aren’t sure what your action plan should look like, don’t worry. Contact our team today, and we’d be happy to send you a school action plan template.
Plan Your External Communications
Once Ofsted has processed the formal report, it will be published on their website. At that time, it is then available for anyone to view. But, your school needs to make sure current parents have access to the report.
In these communications, your aim should not be to go into details about the report. Yes, you are giving parents access to it, but that doesn’t mean it should be the main focus. This is where your action plan is crucial.
Once parents have read the report, or even just checked the rating, they will initially be concerned. By drawing attention to your new action plan, you immediately offset panic. Parents will recognise that you have already taken action, which shows your school to be proactive and well prepared.
These communications shouldn’t labour excuses or apologies. They should provide details of the changes you intend to make, discuss the impact they will have, and show excitement for the future. With a positive tone and a specific plan of action, your communications should instil confidence in parents and soften the impact of the poor Ofsted report.
Turn a Negative into a Positive by Showcasing Growth
A thoughtful Ofsted action plan and united senior leadership team will raise internal morale. But, to prevent damage to your external reputation, you must get the communication with parents right.
The team at Eduprise is vastly experienced in communications and public relations. Using our expertise, we will help your school turn a poor Ofsted report into a positive driver for change. Your communications will demonstrate the strength of leadership at your school and make sure parents remain on your side.