School leadership? You're not alone.
Meeting your Ofsted leadership and management requirements doesn’t have to feel like re-inventing the wheel.
Ofsted plays many roles in the work of a Head. Sometimes it’s the source of trusted information. Sometimes it’s the kingmaker, its ‘outstanding’ rating a badge of honour and quality. And sometimes it is the big bad wolf, its mere presence (and the knowledge that your inspection is overdue) enough to put staff in fear of the whole house being blown down.
However you feel about Ofsted and its recent history with your school, there’s little doubt that the requirements placed on schools and their Heads are onerous. Take the Effective Leadership and Management section of the Ofsted Handbook, for example.
You’ll no doubt be fully aware of the 17 wide-ranging criteria against which schools and their Heads are evaluated. Each criterion (e.g. diversity and inclusion; design, implementation and evaluation of the curriculum; the motivation, respect and effectiveness of teaching staff; the quality of professional development; leadership vision and its communication; school culture etc) takes a paragraph to describe simply what can, in reality, take a huge amount of time and effort to achieve.
Taken as a whole, the requirements placed on school leaders can easily feel overwhelming. Faced with so many fundamental elements, how can the new Head possibly know where to begin? And how can the established Head pick apart the ‘business as usual’ to get to the core of what needs to change?
Action centred leadership
Fortunately, school leaders don’t have to work alone. Every Head will likely have come across John Adair’s action centred leadership model at some point during their training, coaching or mentoring.
You may have consigned it to the dusty memory banks where Maslow, Herzberg et al live, but it’s worth dusting the model off. When you do, you’ll be surprised how relevant – and how practically useful – it can be.
Action centred leadership neatly segments your leadership responsibilities, distinguishing those that are task related from those that relate to the group or individual.
Making it real
Inevitably, there is a tension between any model and the real world. In isolation, it can be difficult to turn any diagram into a set of tools that can help you manage your people, develop your strategy, engage more effectively or communicate more successfully. It can be harder still to tailor a 40-year-old model to fit the requirements of a 21st century Ofsted evaluation.
Yet with help, meeting Ofsted’s leadership and management standards does not have to feel like an ordeal. With the right support, you can make action centred leadership the platform not only for Ofsted success, but simpler, easier, more successful management outcomes.
Because ultimately, that’s what really counts isn’t it? The purpose for any Head is not to pass an Ofsted inspection; it is to improve their school by improving their people and processes. With the right support, action centred leadership can help you do just that.