School Standards and Performance - Monitoring and challenge

School Standards and Performance - Monitoring and challenge

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A statutory function of all Local Authorities (LAs) is to ensure that all schools provide a high quality educational experience for the children and young people in their care. In meeting these statutory duties the LA is required to monitor, challenge and, where necessary, intervene in maintained schools.

Bradford Council’s Children’s Services Department is committed to working with all partners to monitor, challenge and intervene in LA maintained schools in inverse proportion to the success of each school; success being defined in terms of the quality of provision and the outcomes achieved by pupils.

In order to carry out this function in an effective and transparent way, the LA operates a system of School Prioritisation whereby LA officers and school partnerships assess the performance of schools and educational institutions, to judge the degree of risk in the quality of education being provided and where necessary to respond to these risks.

Academies across the district are also invited to engage with the prioritisation should they wish to participate as part of the district’s family of schools.

The purpose of the School Prioritisation process is to reach an agreement about the priority for intervention for each LA maintained school.  This enables the LA to deliver its statutory functions, to manage risks, target appropriate interventions and thereby help those which are causing concern. The process also allows the LA to be confident that all schools/institutions are meeting their responsibilities for continuous improvement.

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In applying the following criteria a ‘best fit’ approach will be used.


A priority one school is:

  • judged to be ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’ in its last Ofsted inspection.
  • highly likely to be judged ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’ if inspected or evaluated by external consultants
  • close to, or above, floor standards[1]/national averages and has good value added scores including those of vulnerable groups of pupils
  • led by highly effective system leaders and governors with the capacity to support other schools and undertake outreach work
  • currently delivering successful school to school support
  • one in which safeguarding is effective



A priority two school is:

  • judged to be ‘good’ in its last Ofsted inspection
  • currently judged to be ‘requiring improvement’ and is highly likely to be judged ‘good’ if inspected or evaluated by external consultants
  • performing below, or close to, floor standards/national averages and current progress measures demonstrate improvements and vulnerable groups are performing as well as, or better than, other pupils
  • one which has good leadership and governance, and has some capacity to support another school
  • one in which safeguarding is effective




A priority three school is:

  • judged to be ‘requires improvement’ (RI) by Ofsted  in its last inspection
  • currently judged as ‘good’ but is highly likely to be judged ‘RI’ if inspected or evaluated by external consultants
  • one where there are concerns about leadership and/or governance e.g. finance, attendance
  • one where there is a decline in pupil performance over time:
  • vulnerable groups of pupils make slow or limited progress
  • overall performance is below the standards of comparable schools
  • one which has been ‘causing concern’ and is showing early signs of improvement, but is not yet consistently performing well
  • one in which safeguarding is effective




A priority four school is:

  • judged to be ‘special measures’ or ‘serious weaknesses’ in its last Ofsted inspection
  • likely to be judged ‘inadequate’ if inspected or evaluated by external consultants
  • one with complex weaknesses including leadership/governance issues
  • one where there is continued, significant, under-performance over time:
  • pupils, including vulnerable groups, make little or no progress
  • overall performance is significantly below the standards of comparable schools
  • one which requires significant improvement and has limited capacity to do so
  • one in which safeguarding is not effective
  • one with high persistence absence (PA) and attendance is significantly below the national average
  • one with serious financial concerns


As schools formalise their partnerships, they are also reassessing the type of leadership required. School leaders are reflecting on how to create the right leadership and governance structures, and thus capacity, within their partnerships. Some school leaders have taken on a more strategic, executive role within their federations, alliances or MATs, whereby they are overseeing an overarching school improvement strategy, and support and mentor new leaders. Other school leaders are seeking to build capacity within their networks by creating new positions that will co-ordinate the day-to-day work of the partnership.

The accountability framework needs to be re-balanced to facilitate the development of the self-improvement system. A greater emphasis needs to be placed on formative accountability to peers and partners, as opposed to summative accountability to an external regulator alone i.e. the local authority. Effective collaboration involves hard accountability, hence there is a need for key stakeholders to develop clear structures and systems for holding each school to account for progress and performance and introduce measures for assessing the impact of partnership activity.

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The sector led model for school improvement, with the teaching schools and partnerships taking the key lead, is now well embedded in practice. Principally the LA acts as the champion for children providing monitoring, challenge and support. The role is to intervene in the most challenging schools as illustrated below.

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The challenge for 2018-19 is to reduce the number of schools receiving Requires Improvement Ofsted judgements, maintain the number with Good outcomes and to have no schools receive Inadequate judgements.

In order to achieve this, the School Improvement team will offer training and support packages with the emphasis on “Keeping Good, Getting to Good”.

Leadership and Management will be a primary focus for the team, with support being offered in traded packages for leaders and governors to understand fully their role in developing self-sustaining and reflective school practices.

The impact of support and any development programmes will be analysed and schools will be encouraged to question whether their choices are making a difference to the outcomes and progress of the children and young people in their care or whether they should change direction and make brave decisions to alter their approaches.

More robust self-analysis and accountability from leaders and governors can bring about significant change and this is a key priority for the School Improvement team this year in all school phases and establishments.

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[1] A primary school is below the Floor Standard if less than 65% of pupils achieve either the expected standard in reading, writing and mathematics combined or make insufficient progress in reading, writing and mathematics.

To be above the Floor Standard a school needs to meet either the attainment or all of the progress elements.


Page owned by Michael Garside, last updated on 17/07/2020. This page has been viewed 2,569 times.