From its extensive, highly successful experience of working nationally and internationally on school improvement, NET’s team focuses its support and challenge on the following key aspects, with a set of non-negotiables shared by all involved with the school’s workings:
- Expectations and values are at the root of great schools. Establishing whole-school high expectations and shared values are the starting point for any school improvement journey.
- Behaviours of staff, students and families towards one another and the school must be appropriate, and clear examples of best behaviours and attitudes modelled consistently and shared.
- Environments shape lives. Consistently safe, clean and engaging learning environments must be created, from classrooms to corridors to the wider campus.
- Teachers determine pupils’ outcomes, and no school can be better than the quality of its teachers. All teachers are supported and expected to teach consistently good lessons, with outstanding features, as measured by current Ofsted criteria. The provision of excellent continuous professional development is a cornerstone of every NET Academy.
- Supporters are many and varied in the school context. In-class support staff are expected to make a significant contribution to pupils’ learning and progress. Families are actively engaged in their children’s learning. The skills of key community partners are harnessed to impact on students’ wellbeing and readiness for transition to the next phase of their education.
- Leaders of high quality are critical to the success of the academies: principals, senior staff and governors. NET’s investment in their training and well-being is vital to sustaining school improvement journeys. From wide experience in schools, NET pays particular attention to developing high quality middle leaders who can self-evaluate and judge impact on pupils’ progress.
- Critics see an academy afresh. NET has a well established track-record of employing a team of former HMI, lead Ofsted inspectors and current headteachers to monitor and support primary, special and secondary schools nationally, with high impact on their improvement against Ofsted criteria.
‘The work with and support from the academy sponsor is sustaining rapid improvement’
Ofsted inspection report, Battle Primary Academy, October 2014
Extract from The Restless School by Roy BlatchfordRead more
There are two telling characteristics of the restless school. Firstly, the best schools tighten up to be good, but loosen to become outstanding. They recognise the importance of high levels of quality control to secure good provision, evolving into higher levels of quality assurance. Thus a whole-school culture of excellence is created, within which teachers and students alike feel empowered to take measured risks.
Second, the successful, restless school is fundamentally outward-facing. Significant numbers of staff work on external agendas, sometimes linked to training school status, sometimes linked to federations and primary secondary clusters. These schools enjoy partnerships with other schools and education providers: their staff are constantly bringing back good ideas to their own classrooms from external sources. A key aspect of this outward-facing philosophy is the way in which the schools cite the value of external critical friends who are invited from time to time to see the school with a fresh pair of eyes. These friends validate changes, champion great practice and point out where there is still scope for development.
Successful schools and their leaders are restless. There is a strange paradox at their core: they are very secure in their systems, values and successes yet simultaneously seeking to change and improve. These schools look inwards to secure wise development; they look outwards to seize innovation which they can hew to their own ends and, importantly, make a difference to the children and students they serve.