Ofsted reminded us back in 2019 of the key role that a subject leader plays…
In our self-improving school system, most schools are committed to continually reviewing and evaluating their provision to ensure they provide the highest Quality of Education for each and all of their learners.
A well thought through Quality Assurance (QA) policy and associated processes will:
- test the extent to which the school’s curriculum sets out the knowledge and skills that pupils will gain at each stage;
- evidence the effectiveness of teaching the curriculum and the learning experience gained by all pupils (this will include consideration of the cumulative knowledge built and the skills pupils can apply);
- evaluate the outcomes that pupils achieve as a result of the education they have received.
Key features of a good QA cycle:
- a clearly communicated and understood set of processes;
- consistent and accurate across the school, being both comprehensive and forensic;
- transparent (as appropriate) and developmental in nature;
- accountability and responsibility for improvement is made clear;
- not onerous such that it significantly increases workloads;
- finally, and importantly, it leads to a higher Quality of Education for pupils.
Schools will have a number of key strands that make up their QA cycle:
Either through line management or working groups, senior and middle leaders need to regularly review the overall curriculum and also the design of its delivery, including sequencing, lesson structure, differentiation and assessment processes.
Schools use a range of activities to review teaching practices and the learning experience of pupils. Traditionally these have been focused on an individual member of staff using perhaps lesson visits, work scrutiny and data analysis. However, the recent trend towards a developmental rather than inspectorial approach to QA has meant these activities have focused on subjects or areas of the school as well as the individuals within them. In this way improvement planning can take place at subject and school level in addition to staff appraisal and development. The activities themselves have also been widened to sample the experiences and knowledge of those involved including the subject leads, teaching staff and pupils. The common term being used for this approach being “Deep Dive” due to the extensive nature of the activity.
Subject/Departmental Self-Evaluation and Improvement Plans
These tend to lead and follow the cycle of the school year. Any self-evaluation should be a working document updated as and when new QA evidence arises and should reach conclusions which inform the next set of improvement plans towards the end of the summer term. These are a key element in the school’s overall scrutiny process, feeding into whole school level self-review and improvement planning.
Regular informal and formal catch ups, meetings and drop-ins should be a feature of good line management, to support and challenge staff to ensure they and their pupils thrive. Good line management acts as a school’s nervous system, coordinating actions and providing information to the point it is needed for decisions to be made.
Staff Appraisal, Coaching and Development
Good appraisal systems will enable both holding individuals to account for their performance and support their own learning. Best practice suggests this is not just a once or twice a year event but rather a continuous process with key milestone reviews. Individuals need clearly defined aims/objectives which are achievable and also flexible. The evidence for this element of the QA processes should often be provided by another strand outlined above and not create additional workload for this purpose alone.
Support Your Quality Assurance Processes with Lessons Learned
Our online school improvement and staff development system, Lessons Learned, can provide the structure needed to ensure your quality assurance policy and processes are accessible, easy to follow and well maintained. With up to 5 optional modules, it can be used for evidencing and reporting on T&L, tracking curriculum development through subject reporting, appraisal/coaching of all school staff and more.
To find out more, book your free online demo with our friendly support team: