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Just A Little Something - Episode 4

Just a little something: Episode 4


This is a series which covers some of the things that some leaders of independent schools overlook, omit, misunderstand, or fail to address when it comes to meeting the all-important Independent School Standards. The episodes will not cover the standards in any sort of order and special requests are welcome so get in touch.


Before we begin: a bit of advice




And to borrow the DfE’s disclaimer from the above document what I share with you here: is not purported to be definitive guidance on the meaning of the standards themselves, only a court can give that.


Today we are looking at – one of the ways in which non-compliance with the independent school standards can impact your school.


Failure to meet one or more of the independent school standards has a significant impact on inspection outcomes. In all 5 types of Ofsted inspections of independent schools – compliance with the standards is evaluated. Let’s use standard inspections as an example. When you look at the first page of a standard inspection report – you might think that compliance with the independent school standards is an evaluation separate from the grades that are awarded.


It is not! Compliance with the standards has direct impact on the grade awarded for Leadership & Management and it indirectly impacts the grade awarded for Overall Effectiveness.


Take a look at the grade descriptors for Leadership & Management in the non-association independent school inspection handbook  (paragraph 414) – check the first line under each of the grades and you will see what I mean. When there are one or more unmet independent school standards, you are almost guaranteed grade 4 for Leadership & Management. I say almost even though it seems definitive because I have come across some instances where schools have been awarded grade 3 for Leadership & Management even though one or more standards were not met. If it helps – the impact of compliance with independent school standards on the Leadership & Management grade is exactly the same as the impact of safeguarding.


Now let’s look at how compliance with the standards has an indirect impact on the grade for Overall Effectiveness. We already know that non-compliance leads to a grade 4 for Leadership & Management and in exceptional circumstances a grade 3. Leadership & Management is one of the 4 key areas of judgment during a standard inspection. Now let’s look at the grade descriptors for Overall Effectiveness. Again let’s go to the non-association independent school inspection handbook again, this time paragraph 426. I am just going to read the wording for grade 3 and 4”


So, there you have it. Failure to comply with the standards will lead to a grade 4 or grade 3 for Leadership & Management. And when Leadership & Management (or any other key area of judgment) is judged as requires improvement, it is likely that overall effectiveness will also be requires improvement. And even of more concern is the fact that when Leadership & Management (or any other key area of judgment) is inadequate, overall effectiveness will be inadequate.


This is reflected in inspection statistics. When looking at the latest inspection statistics published by Ofsted  it is clear that all of the schools that were awarded a grade 4 during a standard inspection also failed to comply with the independent school standards. And we can also see that of all the independent schools judged as requires improvement, only 56% met the ISS meaning that 44% did not. This is the reason why we said earlier that failure to comply with the standards almost guarantees a grade 4 for Leadership & Management, some schools are awarded a grade 3 which then in turn leads to a grade 3 for Overall Effectiveness.



What we have discussed today is only 1 of the 3 ways in which non-compliance with the standards can affect your school. We discuss all 3 in our training workshop “How to ensure consistent compliance with the Independent School Standards” You can find out more about this workshop and even book one for your school here:


I hope you have found this useful. If so, say so in the comments.

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